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The brilliant American victory here 
in 1 781 over the British Legion 
helped turn the tide of the 
Revolutionary War in the South 


Downright Fighting" 

The Story of Cowpens 
by Thomas J. Fleming 

A Handbook for 

Cowpens National Battlefield 

South Carolina 

Produced by the 
Division of Publications 
National Park Service 

U.S. Department of the Interior 
Washington, D.C. 1988 

About this book 

The story of Cowpens, as told in these pages, is ever 
fresh and will live in memory as long as America's 
wars are studied and talked about. The author is 
Thomas Fleming, a biographer, military historian, 
and novelist of distinction. His works range from an 
account of the Pilgrims' first year in America to 
biographies of Jefferson and Franklin and novels of 
three American wars. Downright Fighting, The 
Story of Cowpens is a gripping tale by a master 
storyteller of what has been described as the 
patriot's best fought battle of the Revolutionary 

The National Park System, of which Cowpens 
National Battlefield is a unit, consists of more than 
340 parks totaling 80 million acres. These parks 
represent important examples of the nation's natural 
and cultural inheritance. 

National Park Handbooks 

National Park handbooks, compact introductions to 
the natural and historical places administered by the 
National Park Service, are designed to promote 
public understanding and enjoyment of the parks. 
Each handbook is intended to be informative 
reading and a useful guide to park features. More 
than 100 titles are in print. They are sold at parks 
and by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Fleming, Thomas J. 

Cowpens: "downright fighting." 

(Handbook: 133) 

"A HandbcH^k for Cowpens National Battlefield, 

South Carolina." 

Bibliography: p. 

Includes index. 

Supt. of Docs, no.: 129.9/5:133 

1. Cowpens. Battle of, 1781. I. Title. II. Series: 

Handbook (I'nited States. National Park Service. 

Division of Publications): 135. 

E241.C9F58 1988 973.337 87-600142 

ISBN 0-91 2(}27-33-(i tvgpo: 1988-201-939/60005 

Prologue 4 

George F. Scheer 

Part 1 "Downright Fighting" 1 

The Story of Cowpens 
Thomas J. Fleming 

Part 2 Cowpens and the War in the South 86 

A Guide to the Battlefield and Related Sites 

Cowpens Battleground 88 
The Road to Yorktown 91 
Savannah, 1778-79 91 
Charleston, 1780 91 
The Waxhaws, 1780 91 
Camden, 1780 92 
Kings Mountain, 1780 92 
Guilford Courthouse, 1781 92 
Ninety Six, 1781 93 
Eutaw Springs, 1781 93 
Yorktown, 1781 93 
For Further Reading 94 

Index 95 






Preceding pages On the 

morning of January 15, 1781, 
Morgan 's army looked down 
this road at Tarleton 's legion 
deploying into a line of bat- 
tle. Locally it was known as 
the Green River Road. Four 
or five miles beyond the posi- 
tion held by Morgan, the 
road crossed the Broad River 
at Island Ford. For opposite 
reasons. Morgan and Tarleton 
each thought this field and its 
relationship to the Broad 
River gave him the advantage. 

Splendid Antagonists 

As battlefields go, this one is fairly plain: a grassy 
clearing in a scrub-pine forest with no obvious mili- 
tary advantages. There are a thousand meadows like 
it in upstate South Carolina. This one is important 
because two centuries ago armies clashed here in 
one of the dramatic battles of the Revolutionary War. 

In January 1781, this clearing was a frontier pas- 
turing ground, known locally as the Cowpens. The 
name came from the custom of upcountry stock 
raisers wintering their cattle in the lush vales around 
Thicketty Mountain. It was probably squatters' 
ground, though one tradition says that it belonged to 
a person named Hannah, while another credits it to 
one Hiram Saunders, a wealthy loyalist who lived 
close by. 

The meadow was apparently well known to fron- 
tiersmen. The previous October, a body of over- 
mountain men, pursuing Patrick Ferguson and his 
loyalist corps, made camp here and, according to 
another tradition, hauled the Tory Saunders out of 
bed at night seeking information on Ferguson's where- 
abouts. Finding no sign of an army passing through, 
they butchered some cattle and after refreshing them- 
selves took up the trail again. 

When the troops of Continental General Daniel 
Morgan filed onto this field on a dank January day in 
1781, they were an army on the run, fleeing an 
implacable and awesome enemy, the dreaded British 
Legion of Col. Banastre Tarleton. Their patrols re- 
ported that they were substantially outnumbered, 
and by any military measure of the time, they were 
clearly outclassed. They were a mixed force of some 
830 soldiers— 320 seasoned Continentals, a troop of 
light dragoons, and the rest militia. Though some 
of the militia were former Continentals, known to be 
stalwarts in battle, most were short-term soldiers 
whose unpredictable performance might give a com- 
mander pause when battle lines were drawn. Their 
foe, Tarlton's Legion, was the best light corps in the 
British army in America, and it was now reinforced 
by several hundred British regulars and an artillery 

On this afternoon of January 16, 1781, the men of 
Morgan's army had run long enough. They were 
spoiling for a fight. They knew Tarleton as the en- 
emy whose troopers at the Waxhaws had sabered to 
death Americans in the act of surrendering. From 

him they had taken their own merciless victory cry, 
"Tarleton's quarter/' In the months after the infa- 
mous butchery, as Tarleton's green-jacketed dragoons 
attacked citizens and soldiers alike and pillaged farms 
and burned homes, they had come to characterize 
him as "Bloody Tarleton." He was bold, fearless, 
often rash and always a savage enemy, and they 
seethed to have a go at him. 

Morgan chose this ground as much for its tactical 
advantages as from necessity. Most of his militia 
lacked bayonets and could not stand up to bayonet- 
wielding redcoats in a line of battle. Morgan saw 
advantage in this unlikely field: a river to the rear to 
discourage the ranks from breaking, rising ground 
on which to post his regulars, a scattering of trees to 
hinder the enemy's cavalry, and marsh on one side to 
thwart flanking maneuvers. It was ground on which 
he could deploy his troops to make the most of their 
abilities in the kind of fighting that he expected 
Tarleton to bring on. 

In the narrative that follows, Thomas Reming, a 
historian with the skills of a novelist, tells the authen- 
tic, dramatic story that climaxed on the next morn- 
ing. In his fully fleshed chronicle, intimate in detail 
and rich in insights, he relates the complex events 
that took shape in the Southern colonies after the 
War of the Revolution stalemated in the north. He 
describes the British strategy for conquering the re- 
bel Americans and the Americans' counterstrategy. 
An important part of this story is an account of the 
daringly unorthodox campaign of commander-in-chief 
George Washington's trusted lieutenant Nathanael 
Greene, who finally ''flushed the bird" that Washing- 
ton caught at Yorktown. Upon reading Downright 
Fighting, one understands why the Homeric battle 
between two splendid antagonists on the morning of 
January 17, 1781, became the beginning of the end of 
the British hold on America. 

— George F. Scheer 

Overleaf Scattered hard- 
woods gave Morgan 's skir- 
mishers protection and 
helped deflect Tarleton 's 
hard-riding dragoons sent 
out to drive them in. The 
battle opened at sunrise, in 
light similar to this scene. 



,*. r • 







, V- 





>^ :■■■■■' 



Preceding page British and 
Continental dragoons clash 
in the opening minutes of 
battle. From Frederick 
Kimmelmeyer s painting, 
"The Battle of Cowpens, " 

The Anatomy of Victory 

1 All night the two men rode northwest along the 
muddy winding roads of South Carolina's back coun- 
try. Twice they had to endure bone-chilling swims 
across swollen creeks. Now, in the raw gray cold of 
dawn, they faced a more formidable obstacle — the 
wide, swift Pacolet River. They rode along it until 
they found the ford known as Grindal Shoals. Ordi- 
narily, it would have been easy to cross. But the river 
was high. The icy water lapped at their thighs as the 
weary horses struggled to keep their feet in the 
rushing current. "Halt,'' snarled a voice from the 
river bank. "Who goes there?" 

"Friend," said the lead rider, 25-year-old Joseph 

The sentry barked the password for the night. 
McJunkin and his companion, James Park, did not 
know the countersign. McJunkin told the sentry he 
had an important message for General Morgan. The 
sentry told him not to move or he would put a hole 
through his chest. He called for the captain of the 
guard. The two riders had to sit there in the icy river 
while the captain made his way to the bank. Once 
more McJunkin insisted he had a message for Gen- 
eral Morgan. It was from Colonel Pickens. It was 
very important. 

The captain invited the two men onto the north 
bank of the Pacolet. Above them, on a wooded hill, 
was the camp of Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan of the 
Continental Army of the United States. Around 
Morgan's tent, about 830 men were lighting fires and 
beginning to cook their breakfasts, which consisted 
largely of cornmeal. From a barrel in a wagon, a 
commissary issued a gill (four ounces) of rum. Most 
added water to it and put it in their canteens. A few 
gulped the fiery liquid straight, in spite of the frowns 
of their officers. Some 320 of the men still wore 
pieces of uniforms— a tattered blue coat here, a 
ragged white wool waistcoat there, patched buff 
breeches. In spite of the rainy, cold January weather, 
few had shoes on their feet. These men were Conti- 
nentals—the names by which patriot regular army 
soldiers, usually enlisted for three years, were known. 

The rest of the army wore a varied assortment of 
civilian clothing. Hunting shirts of coarse homespun 
material known as linsey-woolsey, tightly belted, or 
loose wool coats, also homespun, leather leggings, 
wool breeches. These men were militia— summoned 


from their homes to serve as emergency soldiers for 
short periods of time. Most were from western 
districts of the CaroHnas. About 120 were riflemen 
from Virginia, committed to serving for six months. 
Most of these were former Continentals. They were 
being paid by other Virginians who hired them as 
substitutes to avoid being drafted into the army. 
After five years of war, patriotism was far from 
universal in America. 

In his tent, Morgan listened to the message 
McJunkin brought from Col. Andrew Pickens: the 
British were advancing in force. Morgan whirled and 
roused from a nearby camp cot a small groggy man 
who had managed to sleep through McJunkin's bad 
news. His name was Baron de Glaubech. He was one 
of the many French volunteers who were serving 
with the Americans. ''Baron," Morgan said. "Get up. 
Go back and tell Billy that Benny is coming and he 
must meet me tomorrow evening at Gentleman 
Thompson's on the east side of Thicketty Creek." 

Sixty-three years later, when he was 80, Joseph 
McJunkin remembered these words with their re- 
markable combination of informality and decision. 
It was part of the reason men like young McJunkin 
trusted Daniel Morgan. It was somehow reassuring 
to hear him call Lt. Col. William Washington, com- 
mander of the American cavalry and second cousin 
to Gen. George Washington, "Billy." It was even 
more reassuring to hear him call Lt. Col. Banastre 
Tarleton, commander of the British army that was 
coming after them, "Benny." 

Adding to this reassurance was 45-year-old Daniel 
Morgan's appearance and reputation. He was over 
six feet tall, with massive shoulders and arms, tough- 
ened from his youthful years as a wagonmaster in 
western Virginia. In his younger days he had been 
one of the champion sluggers and wrestlers of the 
Shenandoah Valley. His wide volatile face could still 
flash from cheerfulness to pugnacity in an instant. In 
the five years of the Revolution, Morgan had be- 
come a living legend: the man who led a reckless 
assault into the very mouths of British cannon on the 
barricaded streets of Quebec in 1775, whose corps of 
some 570 riflemen had been the cutting edge of the 
American army that defeated the British at Saratoga 
in 1777. 

On this 14th of January, 1781 , a great many people 

The victor at Saratoga, Gen. 
Horatio Gates (top) came 
south in July 1780 to 
command the Southern De- 
partment after the main 
Continental army in the 
South was surrendered at 
Charleston. A month later he 
himself was routed at Camden 
by Cornwallis (below). 

Both generals are portrayed 
in their prime. Charles 
Willson Peale shows Gates at 
49 with an open face and a 
steady ^aze. Cornwallis was 
only 45, two years after 
Yorktown, when he sat for 


Daniel Morgan, Frontiersman 

He was a giant of a man, 6 feet 
2 inches, witfi a full face, blue 
eyes, dark hair, and a classic 
nose. As a youth in western 
Virginia, he had drifted into 
wagoneering along the roads 
of the frontier. His education 
was slight. Good-natured and 
gregarious, he was, like his 
companions of the road, rowdy 
and given to drink, gambling, 
and fighting. In time, he mar- 
ried, settled down, went into 
farming, and became a man of 
substance in his community. 

He was already a hero of 
the Revolution when he took 
command of Greene's light 
troops in late 1 780. His rifle 
corps had fought with distinc- 

tion at Quebec (1 775) and 
Saratoga (1777). But after 
being passed over for promo- 
tion, unfairly he thought, he 
retired to his Virginia farm. 
When the South fell to British 
armies in 1 780, he put aside 
his feelings and welcomed a 
new command. 

Morgan was at home in the 
slashing, partisan warfare in 
the South. At Cowpens the 
mixed force of regulars and 
militia that he led so ably 
destroyed Tarleton's dreaded 
Legion, depriving Cornwallis 
of a wing of swift-moving light 
troops essential to his army's 

Morgan 's fine stone house 
(below), which he named 
"Saratoga, "still stands near 
Winchester, Virginia. 

Woodcuts of the gold medal 
Congress awarded Morgan 
for his victory at Cowpens. 
The original medal is lost. 


10 Kilometers 50 

10 Miles 















9 h 





Cornwallis halts 
south of the 
Dan River. 


Greene races 
for the Dan River 
with CornwaliiSx 
in pursuit. \ 

Greene crosses 
the Dan River and 
is resupplied and 
13 Feb 1781 

Guilford Courthouse. 

15 March 1781 

Morgan's line 
Of retreat after, 
Gilbert Town, , 


Jlsland Fori 

Cowpens—^ J^-^v 

17 Jan 17 B1 "'~K 

Ramsour's Mill 

Cornwallis burns 
his baggage. 
24 Jan 1781 


Green River 
Road - 

A/offord's Iron Works 

Grindal Shoals-^ g Hamiitonsi 

Morgan's carnp '^^i^^^'"^J^ 

25Dec1780to # V'*%«.'r 

14 Jan 1781 f \ 

$" Easterwood 
Blacksiocks # Shoals 

20 Nov 1 780 f X 

Musgroves Mill^,,^^ FIshdam 

18 Aug 1780 ^V/^^ C"/" .,«„- 

Hammonds Store ^^^r" 
28 Dec 1780 ^ •■■»• 


Besieged by Greene 
May-June 1781; 
evacuated by the 
British July 1781, 



Brier Creek y O 
3 March 1779 C 


Great Savannah X 
20 Aug 1780 

Eutaw Springs 
8 Sept 1781 


Captured by the British 
x12 May 1780 
Sullivans Island 
28 June 1776 




tersburg ^'^^s 


Yorktown Cape Charles 

Cornwatlis surrenders 

19 Oct 1781 

Cape Henry 


The War in the South 

The lower South became the decisive theatre 
of the Revolutionary War. After the struggle 
settled into stalemate in the north, the British 
mounted their second campaign to conquer 
the region. British expeditionary forces cap- 
tured Savannah in late 1 778 and Charleston in 
May 1 780. By late in that summer, most of 
South Carolina was pacified, and a powerful 
British army under Cornwallis was poised to 
sweep across the Carolinas into Virginia. 

This map traces the marches of Cornwallis 
(red) and his wily adversary Nathanael Greene 
(blue). The campaign opened at Charleston in 
August 1 780 when Cornwallis marched north 
to confront Gen. Horatio Gates moving south 
with a Continental army. It ended at Yorktown 
in October 1 781 with Cornwallis's surrender of 
the main British army in America. In between 
were 1 8 months of some of the hardest cam- 
paigning and most savage fighting of the war. 

fallis marches 
irtay 1781 

New Bern 






Gen. Nathanael Greene 
( 1742-86) served with distinc- 
tion in two roles: as quarter- 
master general of the army 
after others had failed in the 
post, and as the strategist 
of the decisive Southern 

in South Carolina and North CaroHna were badly in 
need of the reassurance that Daniel Morgan commu- 
nicated. The year just completed had been a series 
of military and political disasters, with only a few 
flickering glimpses of hope for the Americans who 
had rebelled against George III and his Parliament in 
1776. In 1780 the British had adopted a new strategy. 
Leaving enough troops to pin down George Wash- 
ington's main American army near New York, the 
British had sent another army south to besiege 
Charleston. On May 12, 1780, the city and its 
defending army, under the command of a Massachu- 
setts general named Benjamin Lincoln, surrendered. 
Two hundred and forty-five regular officers and 
2,326 enlisted men became captives along with an 
equal number of South Carolina militia; thousands 
of muskets, dozens of cannon, and tons of irreplace- 
able gunpowder and other supplies were also lost. 

It was the worst American defeat of the war. The 
Continental Congress responded by sending south 
Gen. Horatio Gates, commander of the army that 
had beaten the British at Saratoga. Gates brought 
with him about 1,200 Maryland and Delaware Conti- 
nentals and called on the militia of North Carolina 
and Virginia to support him. On August 16, 1780, 
outside the village of Camden, S.C., the Americans 
encountered an army commanded by Charles, Earl 
Cornwallis, the most aggressive British general in 
America. Cornwallis ordered a bayonet charge. The 
poorly armed, inexperienced militia panicked and 
fled. The Continentals fought desperately for a time 
but were soon surrounded and overwhelmed. 

Both North and South Carolina now seemed pros- 
trate. There was no patriot army in either state 
strong enough to resist the thousands of British regu- 
lars. Georgia had been conquered by a combined 
British naval and land force in late 1778 and early 
1779. There were rumors that America s allies, France 
and Spain, were tired of the war and ready to call a 
peace conference. Many persons thought that the 
Carolinas and Georgia would be abandoned at this 
conference. In the Continental Congress, some al- 
ready considered them lost. "It is agreed on all hands 
the whole state of So. Carolina hath submitted to the 
British Government as well as Georgia,'' a Rhode 
Island delegate wrote. "I shall not be surprised to 
hear N. Carolina hath followed their example." 


British spokesmen eagerly promoted this idea. 
They were more numerous in the CaroHnas than 
most 20th-century Americans reahze. The majority 
of them were American born — men and women 
whom the rebel Americans called tories and today 
are usually known as loyalists. Part of the reason for 
this defection was geographical. The people of the 
back country had long feuded with the wealthier 
lowlanders, who controlled the politics of the two 
States. The lowlanders had led the Carolinas into the 
war with the mother country, and many back-country 
people sided with the British in the hope of humbling 
the haughty planters. Some of these counter- 
revolutionists sincerely believed their rights would 
be better protected under the king. Another large 
group thought the British were going to win the war 
and sided with them in the hope of getting rich on 
the rebels' confiscated estates. A third, more passive 
group simply lacked the courage to oppose their 
aggressive loyalist neighbors. 

The British set up forts, garrisoned by regulars 
and loyalists, in various districts of South Carolina 
and told the people if they swore an oath of alle- 
giance to the king and promised to lay down their 
weapons, they would be protected and forgiven for 
any and all previous acts of rebellion. Thousands of 
men accepted this offer and dropped out of the war. 

But some South Carolinians refused to submit to 
royal authority. Many of them were Presbyterians, 
who feared that their freedom to worship would be 
taken away from them or that they would be de- 
prived of the right to vote, as Presbyterians were in 
England. Others were animated by a fundamental 
suspicion of British intentions toward America. They 
believed there was a British plot to force Americans 
to pay unjust taxes to enable England's aristocratic 
politicians and their followers to live in luxury. 

Joseph McJunkin was one of the men who had 
refused to surrender. He had risen from private to 
major in the militia regiment from the Union district 
of South Carolina. After the fall of Charleston, he 
and his friends hid gunpowder and ammunition in 
hollow logs and thickets. But in June 1780, they were 
badly beaten by a battalion of loyalist neighbors and 
fled across the Broad River. They were joined by 
men from the Spartan, Laurens, and Newberry dis- 
tricts. At the Presbyterian Meeting House on Bullocks 

Thomas Sumter (1732-1832), 
a daring and energetic parti- 
san leader, joined the patriot 
side after Tarleton 's dra- 
goons burned his Santee 
home. His militia harassed 
and sometimes defeated the 
British in the savage civil war 
that gripped the South Caro- 
lina backcountrv in 1780-81. 


Short, disciplined to the life 
of a soldier, yet plain and 
gentle in manner, Francis 
Marion {the figure at left) was 
equally brilliant as an officer 
of regulars and a partisan 
leader of militia. To the Brit- 
ish he was as elusive as a fox, 
marching his brigade at night, 
rarely sleeping twice in the 
same camp, and vanishing 
into the swamps when op- 
posed by a larger force. 

Creek, they debated whether to accept British pro- 
tection. McJunkin and a few other men rose and 
vowed they would fight on. Finally someone asked 
those who wanted to fight to throw up their hats and 
clap their hands. "Every hat went up and the air 
resounded with clapping and shouts of defiance,'' 
McJunkin recalled. 

A few days later, these men met Thomas Sumter, 
a former colonel in the South Carolina Continentals. 
He had fled to western South Carolina after the 
British burned his plantation. The holdouts asked 
him his opinion of the situation. "Our interests are 
the same. With me it is liberty or death," he said. 
They elected him their general and went to war. 

Elsewhere in South Carolina, other men coalesced 
around another former Continental officer, Francis 
Marion. Still others followed Elijah Clarke, who 
operated along the border between South Carolina 
and Georgia. These partisans, seldom numbering 
more than 500 men and often as few as 50 struck at 
British outposts and supply routes and attacked 
groups of loyalists whom the British were arming 
and trying to organize into militia regiments. The 
British and loyalists grew exasperated. After the 
battle of Camden, Lord Cornwallis declared that any- 
one who signed a British parole and then switched 
sides would be hanged without a trial if captured. If 
a man refused to serve in the loyalist militia, he 
would be imprisoned and his property confiscated. 
At a convention of loyalist militia regiments on 
August 23, 1780, the members resolved that these 
orders should be ruthlessly applied. They added one 
other recommendation. Anyone who refused to serve 
in the king's militia should be drafted into the British 
regulars, where he would be forced to fight whether 
he liked it or not. 

For the rest of 1780, a savage seesaw war raged 
along the Carolina frontier. Between engagements 
both sides exacted retaliation on prisoners and non- 
combatants. Elijah Clarke besieged Augusta with a 
mixed band of South Carolinians and Georgians. 
Forced to retreat by British reinforcements, he left 
about two dozen badly wounded men behind. The 
loyalist commander of Augusta, Thomas Browne, 
wounded in the siege, hanged 13 of them in the 
stairwell of his house, where he could watch them 
die from his bed. A rebel named Reed was visiting a 


neighbor's house when the landlady saw two loyalists 
approaching. She advised Reed to flee. Reed replied 
that they were old friends; he had known them all his 
life. He went outside to shake hands. The loyalists 
shot him dead. Reed's aged mother rode to a rebel 
camp in North Carolina and displayed her son's 
bloody pocketbook. The commander of the camp 
asked for volunteers. Twenty-five men mounted their 
horses, found the murderers, and executed them. 

In this sanguinary warfare, the rebels knew the 
side roads and forest tracks. They were expert, like 
Marion's men, at retreating into swamps. But the 
British also had some advantages. The rebels could 
do little to prevent retaliation against their homes 
and property. If a man went into hiding when the 
British or loyalists summoned him to fight in their 
militia, all his corn and livestock were liable to 
seizure, and his house might even be burned, leaving 
his wife and children destitute. This bitter and 
discouraging truth became more and more apparent 
as the year 1780 waned. Without a Continental army 
to back them up, Sumter and the other partisan 
leaders found it difficult to persuade men to fight. 

Not even the greatest militia victory of the war, 
the destruction of a loyalist army of over a thousand 
men at Kings Mountain in October 1780, signifi- 
cantly altered the situation. Although loyalist sup- 
port declined, the British army was untouched by 
this triumph. Moreover, many of the militiamen in 
the rebel army had come from remote valleys deep 
in the Appalachians, and they went home immedi- 
ately, as militiamen were inclined to do. The men of 
western South Carolina were left with the British 
regulars still dominating four-fifths of the State, still 
ready to exact harsh retaliation against those who 
persisted in the rebellion. 

George Washington understood the problem. In 
an earlier campaign in the north, when the New 
Jersey militia failed to turn out, he had said that the 
people needed '*an Army to look the Enemy in the 
Face." To replace the disgraced Horatio Gates, he 
appointed Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island as the 
commander of the Southern army. A 38-year-old 
Quaker who walked with a slight limp, Greene had 
become Washington's right-hand man in five years of 
war in the north. On December 2 he arrived in 
Charlotte, N.C., where Horatio Gates was trying to 

Elijah Clarke, a colonel of 
Georgia militia, fought at a 
number of important actions 
in the civil war along the 
Southern frontier in 1780-81. 


reorganize the remnants of the army shattered at 
Camden. Neither the numbers nor the appearance of 
the men were encouraging. There were 2,046 sol- 
diers present and fit for duty. Of these, only 1,173 
were Continentals. The rest were militia. Worse, as 
Greene told his friend the Marquis de Lafayette, if 
he counted as fit for duty only those soldiers who 
were properly clothed and equipped, he had fewer 
than 800 men and provisions for only three days 
in camp. There was scarcely a horse or a wagon in 
the army and not a dollar of hard money in the 
military chest. 

Among Greene's few encouraging discoveries in 
the army's camp at Charlotte was the news that 
Daniel Morgan had returned to the war and at that 
very moment was within 16 miles of the British base 
at Camden with a battalion of light infantry and what 
was left of the American cavalry under Lt. Col. 
William Washington. Angered by Congress's failure 
to promote him, Morgan had resigned his colonel's 
commission in 1779. The disaster at Camden and the 
threat of England's new southern strategy had per- 
suaded him to forget his personal grievance. Congress 
had responded by making him a brigadier general. 

Studying his maps, and knowing Morgan's ability 
to inspire militia and command light infantry, 
Nathanael Greene began to think the Old Wagoner, 
as Morgan liked to call himself, was the key to 
frustrating British plans to conquer North Carolina. 
Lord Cornwallis and the main British army were now 
at Winnsborough, S.C., about halfway between the 
British base at Camden and their vital back-country 
fort at Ninety Six. The British general commanded 
3,324 regulars, twice the number of Greene's motley 
army, and all presumably well trained and equipped. 
Spies and scouts reported the earl was preparing to 
invade North Carolina for a winter campaign. North 
Carolina had, if anything, more loyalists than South 
Carolina. There was grave reason to fear that they 
would turn out at the sight of a British army and take 
that State out of the shaky American confederacy. 

To delay, if not defeat, this potential disaster, 
Greene decided to divide his battered army and give 
more than half of it to Daniel Morgan. The Old 
Wagoner would march swiftly across the front of 
Cornwallis's army into western South Carolina and 
operate on his left flank and in his rear, threatening 


the enemy's posts at Ninety Six and Augusta, disrupt- 
ing British communications, and — most important- 
encouraging the mihtia of western South CaroHna to 
return to fight. "The object of this detachment," 
Greene wrote in his instructions to Morgan, "is to 
give protection to that part of the country and spirit 
up the people/' 

This was the army that Joseph McJunkin had 
ridden all night to warn. Lord CornwaUis had no 
intention of letting Nathanael Greene get away with 
this ingenious maneuver. CornwaUis had an answer 
to Morgan. His name was Banastre Tarleton. 

^ Daniel Morgan might call him "Benny." Most 
Americans called him "the Butcher" or "Bloody 
Tarleton." A thick-shouldered, compact man of mid- 
dle height, with bright red hair and a hard mouth, he 
was the most feared and hated British soldier in the 
South. In 1776 he had come to America, a 21-year-old 
cornet— the British equivalent of a second lieuten- 
ant. He was now a lieutenant colonel, a promotion 
so rapid for the British army of the time that it left 
older officers frigid with jealousy. Tarleton had 
achieved this spectacular rise almost entirely on raw 
courage and fierce energy. His father had been a 
wealthy merchant and Lord Mayor of Liverpool. He 
died while Tarleton was at Oxford, leaving him 
£5,000, which the young man promptly gambled and 
drank away, while ostensibly studying for the law in 
London. He joined the army and discovered he was a 
born soldier. 

In America, he was a star performer from the start. 
In the fall of 1776, while still a cornet, he played a 
key role in capturing Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, second 
in command of the American army, when he un- 
wisely spent the night at a tavern in New Jersey, 
several miles from his troops. Soon a captain, Tarle- 
ton performed ably for the next two years and in 1778 
was appointed a brigade major of the British cavalry. 

Tarleton again distinguished himself when the 
British army retreated from Philadelphia to New 
York in June 1778. At Monmouth Court House he 
began the battle by charging the American advance 
column and throwing it into confusion. In New 
York, sorting out his troops, the new British com- 
mander, Sir Henry Clinton, rewarded Tarleton with 
another promotion. While the British were in Phila- 

Charles Lee, an English gen- 
eral retired on half-pay at the 
outbreak of the war, threw in 
with Americans and received 
several important commands 
early in the war. His capture 
in late 1 776 at a New Jersey 
tavern by dragoons under 
Banastre Tarleton was a 
celebrated event. 


Banastre Tarleton, Gentleman 

Banastre Tarleton, only 26, 
was a short, thick-set, rather 
handsome redhead who was 
tireless and fearless in battle. 
Unlike Morgan, he had been 
born to privilege. Scion of a 
wealthy Liverpool mercantile 
family, he was Oxford edu- 
cated and might have become 
a barrister except that he 
preferred the playing field to 
the classroom and the de- 
lights of London theatres and 
coffee houses to the study of 
law. After squandering a mod- 
est inheritance, he jumped at 
the chance to buy a commis- 
sion in the King's Dragoons 
and serve in America. Eventu- 

ally he came into command of 
the British Legion, a mounted 
and foot unit raised among 
American loyalists. Marked by 
their distinctive green uni- 
forms, they soon became 
known as Tarleton's Green 
Horse. It was their ruthless 
ferocity that earned Tarleton 
the epithet, "Bloody Tarleton. " 

After the war, Tarleton fell 
in love with the beautiful Mary 
Robinson, a poet, playwright, 
and actress. Tarleton's memoir. 
The Campaigns of 1 780 and 
1 781 in the Southern Pro- 
vinces, owes much to her 
gifted pen. 

Tarleton 's birthplace on 
Water Street in Liverpool. 


Under Gen. Benjamin Lin- 
coln (top), the patriots suf- 
fered their worst defeat of 
the war. Bottled up by Sir 
Henry Clinton in the penin- 
sula city of Charleston, he 
surrendered the entire Conti- 
nental Army in the South- 
more than 5, 000 men — in 
May 1780. The contempo- 
rary map shows the patriot 
defenses north of the city, 
the British siege lines, and 
warships of the Royal Navy 
that controlled the harbor 

delphia, various loyalists had recruited three troops 
of dragoons. In New York, officers— some loyalist, 
some British — recruited companies of infantry and 
more troops of dragoons from different segments of 
the loyalist population. One company was Scottish, 
two others English, a third American-born. Clinton 
combined these fragments into a 550-man unit that 
he christened the British Legion. Half cavalry, half 
infantry, a legion was designed to operate on the 
fringe of a main army as a quick-strike force. 
Banastre Tarleton was given command of the British 
Legion, which was issued green coats and tan 
breeches, unlike other loyalist regiments, who wore 
red coats with green facings. 

Sailing south with the royal army that besieged 
and captured Charleston, Tarleton and his Legion 
acted as a mobile screen, protecting the British rear 
against attacks by American cavalry and militia from 
the interior of the State. The young officer soon 
demonstrated a terrifying ability to strike suddenly 
and ferociously when the Americans least expected 
him. On May 6, 1780, at Lenuds Ferry, he surprised 
and virtually destroyed the American cavalry, forc- 
ing William Washington and many other officers and 
men to leap into the Santee River to escape him. 

After Charleston surrendered, there was only one 
unit of regular American troops left in South Caro- 
lina, the 3d Virginia Continentals commanded by 
Col. Abraham Buford. He was ordered to retreat to 
North Carolina. Cornwallis sent Tarleton and his 
Legion in pursuit. Covering 105 miles in 54 hours, 
Tarleton caught up with the Americans at Waxhaws. 
The 380 Virginians were largely recruits, few of 
whom had seen action before. Tarleton and the 
Legion charged from front, flank, and rear. Buford 
foolishly ordered his men to hold their fire until the 
saber-swinging dragoons were on top of them. The 
American line was torn to fragments. Buford wheeled 
his horse and fled. Tarleton reportedly sabered an 
American officer as he tried to raise a white flag. 
Other Americans screamed for quarter, but some 
kept firing. A bullet killed Tarleton's horse and he 
crashed to the ground. This, he later claimed, aroused 
his men to a "vindictive asperity.'' They thought 
their leader had been killed. Dozens of Americans 
were bayonetted or sabered after they had thrown 
down their guns and surrendered. 


Tarleton 5 slaughter of Col. 
Abraham Buford's command 
at the Waxhaws gave the 
patriots a rallying cry — 
''Tarleton 's quarter"— 
remembered to this day. 

One hundred and thirteen Americans were killed 
and 203 captured at Waxhaws. Of the captured, 150 
were so badly wounded they were left on the battle- 
field. Throughout the Carolinas, the word of the mas- 
sacre—which is what Americans called Waxhaws— 
passed from settlement to settlement. It did not 
inspire much trust in British benevolence among 
those who were being urged to surrender. 

After helping to smash the American army at 
Camden with another devastating cavalry charge, 
Tarleton was ordered to pursue Thomas Sumter and 
his partisans. Pushing his men and horses at his usual 
pace in spite of the tropical heat of August, he 
caught up with Sumter's men at Fishing Creek. 
Sabering a few carelessly posted sentries, the British 
Legion swept down on the Carolinians as they lay 
about their camp, their arms stacked, half of them 
sleeping or cooking. Sumter leaped on a bareback 
horse and imitated Buford, fleeing for his life. Vir- 
tually the entire American force of more than 400 
men was killed or captured. When the news was pub- 
lished in England, Tarleton became a national hero. 
In his official dispatches, Cornwallis called him "one 
of the most promising officers I ever knew.'' 

But Sumter immediately began gathering a new 
force and Francis Marion and his raiders repeatedly 
emerged from the lowland swamps to harass com- 
munications with Charleston and punish any loyalist 
who declared for the king. Tarleton did not under- 
stand this stubborn resistance and liked it even less. 
A nauseating bout with yellow fever deepened his 
saturnine mood. Pursuing Marion along the Santee 
and Black Rivers, Tarleton ruthlessly burned the 
farmhouses of "violent rebels," as he called them. 
"The country is now convinced of the error of the 
insurrection," he wrote to Cornwallis. But Tarleton 
failed to catch "the damned old fox," Marion. 

The British Legion had scarcely returned from 
this exhausting march when they were ordered out 
once more in pursuit of Sumter. On November 9, 
1780, with a new band of partisans, Sumter fought 
part of the British 63d Regiment, backed by a troop 
of legion dragoons, at Fishdam Ford on the Broad 
River and mauled them badly. "I wish you would get 
three Legions, and divide yourself in three parts," 
Cornwallis wrote Tarleton. "We can do no good 
without you." 


Once more the Legion marched for the back 
country. As usual, Tarleton's pace was almost super- 
naturally swift. On November 20, 1780, he caught 
Sumter and his men as they were preparing to ford 
the Tyger River. But this time Tarleton's fondness 
for headlong pursuit got him into serious trouble. He 
had left most of his infantry far behind him and 
pushed ahead with less than 200 cavalry and 90 
infantry, riding two to a horse. Sumter had close to a 
thousand men and he attacked, backwoods style, 
filtering through the trees to pick off foot soldiers 
and horsemen. Tarleton ordered a bayonet charge. 
The infantry was so badly shot up, Tarleton had to 
charge with the cavalry to extricate them, exposing 
his dragoon to deadly rifle fire from other militiamen 
entrenched in a log tobacco house known as Black- 
stocks. The battle ended in a bloody draw. Sumter 
was badly wounded and his men abandoned the field 
to the green-coated dragoons, slipping across the 
Tyger in the darkness. Without their charismatic 
leader, Sumter's militia went home. 

"Sumter is defeated,'' Tarleton reported to Corn- 
wallis, "his corps dispersed. But my Lord I have lost 
men— 50 killed and wounded." The war was becom- 
ing more and more disheartening to Tarleton. Deep- 
ening his black mood was news from home. His 
older brother had put him up for Parliament from 
Liverpool. The voters had rejected him. They ad- 
mired his courage, but the American war was no 
longer popular in England. 

While Cornwallis remained at Winnsborough, 
Tarleton returned from Blackstocks and camped at 
various plantations south of the Broad River. During 
his projected invasion of North Carolina, Cornwallis 
expected Tarleton and his Legion to keep the dwin- 
dling rebels of South Carolina dispersed to their 
homes. Thus the British commander would have no 
worries about the British base at Ninety Six, the key 
to the back country. The fort and surrounding 
settlement had been named by an early mapmaker in 
the course of measuring distances on the Cherokee 
Path, an ancient Indian route from the mountains to 
the ocean. The district around Ninety Six was the 
breadbasket of South Carolina; it was also heavily 
loyalist. But a year of partisan warfare had made 
their morale precarious. The American-born com- 
mander of the fort. Col. John Harris Cruger, had 

This portrait of Tarleton and 
the illustration beneath of a 
troop of dragoons doing 
maneuvers appeared in a 
flattering biography shortly 
after he returned to England 
in 1782. 


The little village of Ninety 
Six was a center of loyalist 
sentiment in the Carolina 
backcountry. Cornwallis mis- 
takenly thought Morgan had 
designs on it and therefore 
sent Tarleton in pursuit, 
bringing on the battle of 
Cowpens. This map dia- 
grams the siege that Gen. 
Nathanael Greene mounted 
against the post in May -June 
of 1781. 

recently warned Cornwallis that the loyalists "were 
wearied by the long continuance of the campaign . . . 
and the whole district had determined to submit as 
soon as the rebels should enter it." The mere hint of 
a threat to Ninety Six and the order it preserved in its 
vicinity was enough to send flutters of alarm through 
British headquarters. 

There were flutters aplenty when Cornwallis heard 
from spies that Daniel Morgan had crossed the 
Broad River and was marching on Ninety Six. Simul- 
taneously came news that William Washington, the 
commander of Morgan's cavalry, had routed a group 
of loyalists at Hammonds Store and forced another 
group to abandon a fort not far from Ninety Six. At 
5 a.m. on January 2, Lt. Henry Haldane, one of Corn- 
wallis's aides, rode into Tarleton's camp and told him 
the news. Close behind Haldane came a messenger 
with a letter from Cornwallis: 'If Morgan is . . . 
anywhere within your reach, I should wish you to 
push him to the utmost.'' Haldane rushed an order to 
Maj. Archibald Mc Arthur, commander of the first 
battalion of the 71st Regiment, which was not far 
away, guarding a ford over the Broad River that 
guaranteed quick communication with Ninety Six. 
McArthur was to place his men under Tarleton's 
command and join him in a forced march to rescue 
the crucial fort. 

Tarleton obeyed with his usual speed. His dra- 
goons ranged far ahead of his little army, which now 
numbered about 700 men. By the end of the day he 
concluded that there was no cause for alarm about 
Ninety Six. Morgan was nowhere near it. But his 
scouts reported that Morgan was definitely south of 
the Broad River, urging militia from North and 
South Carolina to join him. 

Tarleton's response to this challenge was almost 
inevitable. He asked Cornwallis for permission to 
pursue Morgan and either destroy him or force him 
to retreat over the Broad River again. There, Corn- 
wallis and his army could devour him. 

The young cavalry commander outlined the oper- 
ation in a letter to Cornwallis on January 4. He 
realized that he was all but giving orders to his gen- 
eral, and tactfully added: "I feel myself bold in offer- 
ing my opinion |but| it flows from zeal for the public 
service and well grounded enquiry concerning the 
enemy's designs and operations." If Cornwallis ap- 


proved the plan, Tarleton asked for reinforcements: 
a troop of cavalry from the 17th Light Dragoons and 
the infantrymen of the 7th Regiment of Royal Fusil- 
iers, who were marching from Camden to reinforce 
Ninety Six. 

Cornwallis approved the plan, including the rein- 
forcements. As soon as they arrived, Tarleton began 
his march. January rain poured down, swelling every 
creek, turning the roads into quagmires. Cornwallis, 
with his larger army and heavy baggage train, began 
a slow advance up the east bank of the Broad River. 
As the commander in chief, he had more to worry 
about than Tarleton. Behind him was another British 
general, Sir Alexander Leslie, with 1,500 reinforce- 
ments. Cornwallis feared that Greene or Marion 
might strike a blow at them. The earl assumed that 
Tarleton was as mired by the rain and blocked by 
swollen watercourses as he was. On January 12, Corn- 
wallis wrote to Leslie, who was being delayed by 
even worse mud in the lowlands: "I believe Tarleton 
is as much embarrassed with the waters as you are." 
The same day, Cornwallis reported to another offi- 
cer, the commander in occupied Charleston: "The 
rains have put a total stop to Tarleton and Leslie." 
On this assumption, Cornwallis decided to halt and 
wait for Leslie to reach him. 

Tarleton had not allowed the August heat of South 
Carolina to slow his pace. He was equally contemp- 
tuous of the January rains. His scouts reported that 
Morgan's army was at Grindal Shoals on the Pacolet 
River. To reach the patriots he had to cross two 
smaller but equally swollen streams, the Enoree and 
the Tyger. Swimming his horses, floating his infantry 
across on improvised rafts, he surmounted these 
obstacles and headed northeast, deep into the South 
Carolina back country. He did not realize that his 
column, which now numbered over a thousand men, 
was becoming more and more isolated. He assumed 
that Cornwallis was keeping pace with him on the 
east side of the Broad River, cowing the rebel militia 
there into staying home. 

Tarleton also did not realize that this time, no 
matter how swiftly he advanced, he was not going to 
take the patriots by surprise. He was being watched 
by a man who was fighting with a hangman's noose 
around his neck. 

Gen. Alexander Leslie, vet- 
eran commander in Amer- 
ica. His service spanned 
actions from Salem Bridge in 
February 1 775 to the British 
evacuation of Charleston in 
December 1782. 


O Skyagunsta, the Wizard Owl, was what the 
Cherokees called 41-year-old Andrew Pickens. They 
both feared and honored him as a battle leader who 
had defeated them repeatedly on their home grounds. 
Born in Pennsylvania, Pickens had come to South 
Carolina as a boy. In 1765 he had married the 
beautiful Rebecca Calhoun and settled on Long 
Canes Creek in the Ninety Six district. Pickens was 
no speechmaker, but everyone recognized this slen- 
der man, who was just under 6 feet tall, as a leader. 
When he spoke, people listened. One acquaintance 
declared that he was so deliberate, he seemed at 
times to take each word out of his mouth and 
examine it before he said it. Pickens had been one of 
the leaders who repelled the British-inspired assaults 
on the back country by the Cherokee Indians in 1776 
and carried the war into the red men's country, 
forcing them to plead for peace. By 1779 he was a 
colonel commanding one of the most dependable 
militia regiments in the State. When the loyalists, 
encouraged by the British conquest of Georgia in 
1778-79, began to gather and plot to punish their 
rebel neighbors, Pickens led 400 men to assault them 
at Kettle Creek on the Savannah River. In a fierce, 
hour-long fight, he whipped them although they 
outnumbered him almost two to one. 

After Charleston surrendered, Pickens' military 
superior in the Ninety Six district. Brig. Gen. Andrew 
Williamson, was the only high-ranking official left in 
South Carolina. The governor John Rutledge had fled 
to North Carolina, the legislature had dispersed, the 
courts had collapsed. Early in June 1780, Williamson 
called together his officers and asked them to vote 
on whether they should continue to resist. Only eight 
officers opposed immediate surrender. In Pickens' 
own regiment only two officers and four enlisted 
men favored resistance. The rest saw no hope of 
stopping the British regular army advancing toward 
them from Charleston. Without a regular army of 
their own to match the British, they could envision 
only destruction of their homes and desolation for 
their families if they resisted. 

Andrew Pickens was among these realists who had 
accepted the surrender terms offered by the British. 
At his command, his regiment of 300 men stacked 
their guns at Ninety Six and went home. As Pickens 
understood the terms, he and his men were paroled 


on their promise not to bear arms against the king. 
They became neutrals. The British commander of 
Ninety Six, Colonel Cruger, seemed to respect this 
opinion. Cruger treated Pickens with great deference. 
The motive for this delicate treatment became visible 
in a letter Cruger sent Cornwallis on November 27. 

''I think there is more than a possibility of getting a 
certain person in the Long Canes settlement to 
accept of a command,'' Cruger wrote. "And then I 
should most humbly be of opinion that every man in 
the country would declare and act for His Majesty." 

It was a tribute to Pickens' influence as a leader. 
He was also a man of his word. Even when Sumter, 
Clarke, and other partisan leaders demonstrated 
that there were many men in South Carolina ready 
to keep fighting. Pickens remained peaceably at 
home on his plantation at Long Canes. Tales of 
Tarleton's cruelty at Waxhaws, of British and loyalist 
vindictiveness in other districts of the State undoubt- 
edly reached him. But no acts of injustice had been 
committed against him or his men. The British were 
keeping their part of the bargain and he would keep 
his part. 

Then Cornwallis's aide, Haldane, appeared at 
Ninety Six and summoned Pickens. He offered him a 
colonel's commission in the royal militia and a 
promise of protection. There were also polite hints 
of the possibility of a monetary reward for switching 
sides. Pickens agreed to ride down to Charleston and 
talk over the whole thing with the British commander 
there. The visit was delayed by partisan warfare in 
the Ninety Six district, stirred by the arrival of 
Nathanael Greene to take command of the remnant 
of the American regular army in Charlotte. Greene 
urged the wounded Sumter and the Georgian Clarke 
to embody their men and launch a new campaign. 
Sumter urged Pickens to break his parole, call out 
his regiment, and march with him to join Greene. 
Pickens refused to leave Long Canes. 

In desperation, the rebels came to him. Elijah 
Clarke led a band of Georgians and South Caro- 
linians to the outskirts of Long Canes, on their 
march to join Greene. Many men from Pickens' old 
regiment broke their paroles and joined them. Clarke 
ordered Maj^James McCall, one of Pickens' favorite 
officers and one of two who had refused to surrender 
at Ninety Six, to kidnap Pickens and bring him 

Andrew Pickens, a lean and 
austere frontiersman of 
Scotch-Irish origins, ranked 
with Francis Marion and 
Thomas Sumter as major 
partisan leaders of the war. 


before an improvised court-martial board. Accused 
of preparing to join the loyalists, Pickens calmly 
admitted that the British were making him offers. So 
far he had refused them. Even if former friends 
made good on their threat to court-martial and hang 
him, he could not break his pledged word of honor 
to remain neutral. 

The frustrated Georgians and South Carolinians 
let Pickens go home. On December 12, Cruger sent a 
detachment of regulars and loyalist militia to attack 
the interlopers. The royalists surprised the rebels 
and routed them, wounding Clarke and McCall and 
scattering the survivors. Most of the Georgians 
drifted back to their home state and the Carolinians 
straggled toward Greene in North Carolina. 

The battle had a profound effect on Andrew 
Pickens. Friends, former comrades-in-arms, had been 
wounded, humiliated. He still hesitated to take the 
final step and break his parole. His strict Presbyterian 
conscience, his soldier's sense of honor, would not 
permit it. But he went to Ninety Six and told Colonel 
Cruger that he could not accept a commission in the 
royal militia. Cruger sighed and revealed what he 
had been planning to do since he started wooing 
Pickens. In a few days, on orders from Cornwallis, 
the loyalist colonel was going to publish a proclama- 
tion which would permit no one to remain neutral. It 
would require everyone around Ninety Six to come 
to the fort, swear allegiance to the king, and enlist in 
the royal militia. 

Pickens said his conscience would not permit him 
to do this. If the British threatened him with punish- 
ment for his refusal, it would be a violation of his 
parole and he would consider himself free to join the 
rebels. One British officer, who had become a friend 
and admirer of the resolute Pickens, warned him: 
"You will campaign with a halter around your neck. 
If we catch you, we will hang you." 

Pickens decided to take the risk. He rode about 
Long Canes calling out his regiment. The response 
was somewhat discouraging. Only about 70 men 
turned out. Coordinating their movements with Colo- 
nel Washington's raid on the loyalists at Hammonds 
Store, they joined the patriot cavalry and rode past 
Ninety Six to Morgan's camp on the Pacolet. 

The numbers Pickens brought with him were 
disappointing. But he and his men knew the back 


country intimately. They were the eyes and ears 
Morgan's Httle army desperately needed. Morgan 
immediately asked Pickens to advance to a position 
about midway between Fair Forest Creek and the 
Tyger River and send his horsemen ranging out from 
that point in all directions to guard against a surprise 
attack by Banastre Tarleton. 

The Wizard Owl and his men mounted their horses 
and rode away to begin their reconnaissance. Gen- 
eral Morgan soon knew enough about the enemy 
force coming after him to make him fear for his 
army's survival. 

4 Daniel Morgan might call Banastre Tarleton 
"Benny" for the entertainment of young militiamen 
like Joseph McJunkin. But Morgan had been fighting 
the British for five years. He was as close to being a 
professional soldier as any American of his time. He 
knew Banastre Tarleton was no joke. In fact, the 
casual style of his decision to reunite his cavalry and 
infantry at the Thompson plantation on Thicketty 
Creek disguised a decision to retreat. The march to 
Thicketty Creek put an additional 10 miles between 
him and the aggressive British cavalryman. Behind 
the mask of easy confidence Morgan wore for his 
men, there was a very worried general. 

As soon as he crossed the Broad River and 
camped at Grindal Shoals on the north bank of the 
Pacolet on December 25, 1780, Morgan began send- 
ing messengers to the men of western Georgia, 
South Carolina, and North Carolina, urging them to 
turn out and support him. The response had been 
disheartening. Pickens, as we have seen, was unable 
to muster more than a fraction of his old regiment. 
From Georgia came only a small detachment of 
about 100 men under the command of Lt. Col. James 
Jackson and Maj. John Cunningham. Because their 
leader Elijah Clarke was out of action from his 
wound at Long Canes, the Georgians were inclined 
to stay home. Sumter, though almost recovered from 
his wound, sulked on the east side of the Broad River. 
He felt Greene had sent Morgan into his sphere of 
command without properly consulting him. 

Morgan's highest hopes had been focused on 
North Carolina, which had thus far been relatively 
untouched by the British. The commander of the 
militia in the back country was Brig. Gen. William 


Arms and Tactics 

The armies fought the way 
they did— on open ground in 
long lines of musket-wielding 
infantry standing two and three 
ranks deep— because that was 
the most rational way to use 
the weapons they had. 

The main weapon of this 
combat was the muzzle- 
loading, smooth-bore, flint-lock 
musket, equipped with a 16- 
inch bayonet. It hurled a 
one-ounce lead ball of .70 to 
.80 calibre fairly accurately up 

to 75 yards, but distance 
scarcely mattered. The object 
was to break up the enemy's 
formations with volleys and 
then rout them with cold steel. 
The British were masters of 
these linear tactics, and Wash- 

Pistols Cavalrymen and 
mounted officers nearly 
always carried a brace of 
pistols. Though wildly inac- 
curate, they were useful in 
emergencies when formal 
combat broke down and a 
foe was only a few feet away. 

American dragoon pistol 

Powder horns of the type 
used by rifle-carrying militia 
at Cowpens: each was usually 
made bv the man who carried it. 

ington and his commanders 
spent the war trying to instill 
the same discipline in their 
Continentals so that they could 
stand up to redcoats on equal 
terms in battle. 
The American rifle was not 

Edged Weapons came in many 
varieties. The most impor- 
tant for hand-to-hand fight- 
ing were bayonets and swords. 
For cavalrymen, the sword 
was more useful than fire- 
arms. It was "the most de- 
structive and almost the only 
necessary weapon a Dragoon 
carries, "said William Wash- 
ington. They used two types: 
the saber and the broad- 
sword. Both are shown here. 

Officers, foot as well as 
mounted, carried swords, of- 
ten for fighting, sometimes 
only for dress. The small- 
sword (shown at left below) 
was popular with Conti- 
nental officers. 

the significant weapon legend 
later made it out to be. 
Though accurate at great dis- 
tances, it was slow to load and 
useless in open battle be- 
cause it was not equipped 
with a bayonet. But in the 

Pole Arms were in common 
use. Washington wanted his 
foot officers to direct their 
men and not be distracted by 
their own firearms. He there- 
fore armed them with a 
spear-like weapon called a 
spontoon. It became a badge 
of rank as well as a weapon. 

hands of skirmishers the rifle 
could do great damage, as the 
British found out at Cowpens. 

Davidson, a former Continental officer whom 
Morgan had known at Valley Forge. An energetic, 
committed man, popular with the militia, Davidson 
had been expected to muster from 600 to 1,000 men. 
Instead, Morgan got a letter from him with the 
doleful report: "I have not ninety men.'' An Indian 
incursion on the western frontier had drawn off 
many of the militia and inclined others to stay home 
to protect their families. On December 28, Davidson 
rode into Morgan's camp with only 120 men. He said 
that he hoped to have another 500 mustered at 
Salisbury in the next week and rode off to find them, 
leaving Morgan muttering in dismay. 

Morgan had eagerly accepted this independent 
command because he thought at least 2,500 militia- 
men would join his 500 Continentals and Virginia 
six-months men. With an army that size, he could 
have besieged or even stormed the British strong- 
hold at Ninety Six. His present force seemed too 
small to do the enemy any damage. But it was large 
enough to give its commander numerous headaches. 
In addition to the major worry of annihilation by the 
enemy, food was scarce. The country along the 
Pacolet had been plundered and fought over for so 
long, there was nothing left to requisition from the 
farms. On December 31, in a letter to Greene, 
Morgan predicted that in a few days supplies would 
be "unattainable." 

What to do? The only practical move he could see 
for his feeble army was a march into Georgia. The 
British outpost at Augusta was weaker and more 
isolated than Ninety Six. Even here, Morgan was 
cautious. "I have consulted with General Davidson 
and Colonel Pickens whether we could secure a safe 
retreat, should we be pushed by a superior force. 
They tell me it can be easily effected," he wrote 
Greene, asking his approval of this plan. 

Morgan was reluctant to advance beyond the 
Pacolet. The reason was rooted in his keen under- 
standing of the psychology of the average militia- 
man. He wanted to come out, fight and go home as 
soon as possible. He did not want to fight if the 
regular army that was supposed to look the enemy in 
the face seemed more interested in showing the 
enemy their backs. "Were we to advance, and be 
constrained to retreat, the consequences would be 
very disagreeable," Morgan told Greene, speaking 


as one general to another. The mihtia, he was saying, 
would go home. 

Greene was equally anxious about Morgan. Writ- 
ing from Cheraw Hills on the Pee Dee River on 
December 29, the southern commander told Morgan 
of the arrival of Gen. Alexander Leslie in Charleston 
with reinforcements. This news meant the British 
would almost certainly advance soon. "Watch their 
motions very narrowly and take care to guard against 
a surprise,'' he wrote. A week later, in another letter, 
he repeated the warning. 'The enemy and the Tories 
both will try to bring you into disgrace ... to prevent 
your influence upon the militia, especially the weak 
and wavering." 

Greene vetoed Morgan's expedition into Georgia. 
He did not think Morgan was strong enough to 
accomplish much. "The enemy . . . secure in their 
fortifications, will take no notice of your move- 
ment," he predicted. Greene was persuaded that 
Cornwallis would strike at his half of the army in 
their camp at Cheraw Hills, and he did not want 
Morgan in Georgia if this threat materialized. Ignor- 
ing Morgan's worries about feeding his men, Greene 
told him to stay where he was, on the Pacolet or "in 
the neighborhood," and await an opportunity to 
attack the British rear when they marched into 
North Carolina. 

Morgan replied with a lament. He reiterated his 
warning that "forage [for the horses] and provisions 
are not to be had." He insisted there was "but one 
alternative, either to retreat or move into Georgia." 
A retreat, he warned, "will be attended with the 
most fatal consequences. The spirit which now 
begins to pervade the people and call them into the 
field, will be destroyed. The militia who have al- 
ready joined will desert us and it is not improbable 
but that a regard for their own safety will induce 
them to join the enemy." 

That last line is grim evidence of the power of the 
British policy of forcing everyone to serve in the 
loyalist militia. But Nathanael Greene remained 
adamant. He reported to Morgan more bad news, 
which made a march into Georgia even more inad- 
visable. Another British general, with 2,500 men, had 
landed in Virginia and was attacking that vital State, 
upon which the southern army depended for much 
of its supplies. It made no sense to send some of the 


army's best troops deeper into the South, when Vir- 
ginia might call on Greene and Morgan for aid. Al- 
most casually Greene added: "Col. Tarleton is said to 
be on his way to pay you a visit. I doubt not but he will 
have a decent reception and a proper dismission." 

This was a strange remark for a worried general to 
make. From other letters Greene wrote around this 
time, it is evident that he had received a number of 
conflicting reports about Tarleton's strength and 
position. The American commander was also unsure 
about British intentions. He assumed that Cornwallis 
and Tarleton were moving up the opposite sides of 
the Broad River in concert. Since the main British 
column under Cornwallis had all but stopped ad- 
vancing, Greene assumed Tarleton had stopped too 
and that Morgan was in no immediate danger. 

Around this time, a man who had known Daniel 
Morgan as a boy in Virginia visited his camp. 
Richard Winn, after whom Winnsborough was 
named — and whose mansion Cornwallis was using as 
his headquarters— discussed Tarleton's tactics with 
his old friend. Winn told Morgan that Tarleton's 
favorite mode of fighting was by surprise. "He never 
brings on [leads] his attacks himself," Winn said. He 
prefers to send in two or three troops of horse, 
"whose goal is to throw the other party into confu- 
sion. Then Tarleton attacks with his reserve and cuts 
them to pieces." 

Much as he dreaded the thought of a retreat, 
Morgan was too experienced a soldier not to prepare 
for one. He sent his quartermaster across the Broad 
River with orders to set up magazines of supplies for 
his army. This officer returned with dismaying news. 
General Sumter had refused to cooperate with this 
request and directed his subordinates to obey no 
orders from Morgan. 

Adding to Morgan's supply woes was a Carolina 
military custom. Every militiaman brought his horse 
to camp with him. This meant that Morgan had to 
find forage for over 450 horses (counting William 
Washington's cavalry), each of whom ate 25 to 30 
pounds of oats and hay a day. "Could the militia be 
persuaded to change their fatal mode of going to 
war," Morgan groaned to Greene, "much provision 
might be saved; but the custom has taken such deep 
root that it cannot be abolished." 

Bands of militiamen constantly left the army to 


hunt for forage. This practice made it impossible for 
Morgan to know how many men he had in his 
command. In desperation, he ordered his officers, 
both Continental and militia, to call the roll every 
two hours. This measure only gave him more bad 
news. On January 15, after retreating from the 
Pacolet to Thicketty Creek, he reported to Greene 
that he had only 340 militia with him, but did not 
expect "to have more than two-thirds of these to 
assist me, should I be attacked, for it is impossible to 
keep them collected." 

Making Morgan feel even more like a military Job 
was a personal problem. The incessant rain and the 
damp January cold had awakened an illness that he 
had contracted fighting in Canada during the winter 
of 1775-76, a rheumatic inflammation of the sciatic 
nerve in his hip. It made riding a horse agony for 

In his tent on Thicketty Creek, where he had 
rendezvoused with William Washington and his 80 
cavalrymen, who had been getting their horses shod 
at Wofford's iron works, Morgan all but abandoned 
any hope of executing the mission on which Greene 
had sent him. "My force is inadequate,'' he wrote. 
"Upon a full and mature deliberation I am con- 
firmed in the opinion that nothing can be effected by 
my detachment in this country, which will balance 
the risks I will be subjected to by remaining here. 
The enemy's great superiority in numbers and our 
distance from the main army, will enable Lord 
Cornwallis to detach so superior a force against me, 
as to render it essential to our safety to avoid coming 
to action." 

It would be best, Morgan told Greene, if he were 
recalled with his little band of Continentals and 
Andrew Pickens or William Davidson left to com- 
mand the back-country militia. Without the regulars 
to challenge them, the British were less likely to 
invade the district and under Pickens' leadership the 
rebels would be able to keep "a check on the 
disaffected"— the Tories— "which," Morgan added 
mournfully, "is all I can effect." 

When he wrote these words on January 15, Morgan 
was still unaware of what was coming at him. From 
the reports of Pickens' scouts, he had begun to worry 
that Tarleton might have more than his 550-man 
British Legion with him. With the help of Washing- 


ton's cavalry, he felt confident that he could beat off 
an attack by the Legion. But what if Tarleton had 
additional men? "Col. Tarleton has crossed the 
Tyger at Musgrove's Mill," Morgan told Greene. 
"His force we cannot learn." 

Into Morgan's camp galloped more scouts from 
Pickens. They brought news that Morgan made the 
last sentence of his letter. 

"We have just learned that Tarleton's force is from 
eleven to twelve hundred British." 

The last word was the significant one. British. 
Twelve hundred regulars, trained troops, saber- 
swinging dragoons and bayonet-wielding infantry 
like the men who had sent the militia running for 
their lives at Camden and then cut the Continentals 
to pieces. Gen. Daniel Morgan could see only one 
alternative — retreat. 

53 Until he got this information on the numbers 
and composition of Tarleton's army, Morgan seems 
to have toyed with the possibility of ambushing the 
British as they crossed the Pacolet. He left strong 
detachments of his army at the most likely fords. At 
the very least, he may have wanted to make the 
crossing a bloody business for the British, perhaps 
killing some of their best officers, even Tarleton 
himself. If he could repulse or delay Tarleton at the 
river, Morgan hoped he could gain enough time to 
retreat to a ford across the upper Broad, well out of 
reach of Cornwallis on the other side of the river. 
Pickens had kept Morgan well informed of the 
sluggish advance of the main British army. He knew 
they were far to the south, a good 30 miles behind 

North of the Broad, Morgan reasoned they could 
be easily joined by the 500 North Carolina militia 
William Davidson had promised him as well as South 
Carolina men from that district. If Tarleton contin- 
ued the pursuit, they could give battle on the rugged 
slopes of Kings Mountain, where the cavalry of the 
British Legion would be useless. 

Morgan undoubtedly discussed this plan with the 
leaders of the militiamen who were already with 
him— Joseph McDowell of North Carolina, whose 
men had fought at Kings Mountain, James Jackson 
and John Cunningham of Georgia, James McCall, 
Thomas Brandon, William Bratton and other South 


Carolinians, perhaps also Andrew Pickens. They did 
not have much enthusiasm for it. They warned 
Morgan that at least half the militia, especially the 
South Carolinians, would be inclined to go home 
rather than retreat across the Broad. In the back 
country, men perceived rivers as dividing lines be- 
tween districts. Most of the South Carolina men in 
camp came from the west side of the Broad. More- 
over, with Sumter hostile, there was no guarantee 
that they would be able to persuade many men on 
the other side of the river to join them. 

In this discussion, it seems likely that these militia 
leaders mentioned the Cowpens as a good place to 
fight Tarleton on the south side of the river. The 
grazing ground was a name familiar to everyone in 
the back country. It was where the militia had 
assembled before the battle of Kings Mountain the 
previous fall. Messengers could be sent into every 
district within a day's ride to urge laggards to join 
them there. 

Morgan mulled this advice while his men guarded 
the fords of the Pacolet. As dusk fell on January 15, 
Tarleton and his army appeared on the south bank of 
the river. He saw the guards and wheeled, marching 
up the stream toward a ford near Wofford's iron 
works. On the opposite bank, Morgan's men kept 
pace with him, step for step. Then, with no warning, 
the British disappeared into the night. Retreating? 
Making camp? No one knew. It was too risky to 
venture across the swollen river to follow him. The 
British Legion cavalry always guarded Tarleton's 
flanks and rear. 

On the morning of the 16th, a militia detachment 
miles down the river in the opposite direction made 
an alarming discovery. Tarleton was across! He had 
doubled back in the dark and marched most of the 
night to cross at Easterwood Shoals. He was only 
6 miles from Morgan's camp on Thicketty Creek. 
Leaping on their horses, the guards galloped to 
Morgan with the news. 

Morgan's men were cooking breakfast. Out of his 
tent charged the general to roar orders at them, the 
wagoners, the infantry, the cavalrymen. Prepare to 
march immediately! The men grabbed their half- 
cooked cornmeal cakes and stuffed them into their 
mouths. The militia and the cavalry ran for their 
horses, the wagoners hitched their teams, the Conti- 


nentals formed ranks, and the column got underway. 
Morgan pressed forward, ignoring the pain in his 
hip, demanding more and more speed from his men. 
He headed northwest, toward Cowpens, on the 
Green River Road, a route that would also take him 
to the Island Ford across the Broad River, about 
6 miles beyond Cowpens. 

All day the men slogged along the slick, gooey 
roads, Morgan at the head of the column setting a 
relentless pace. His sciatic hip tormented him. Be- 
hind him, the militiamen were expending ''many a 
hearty curse" on him, one of them later recalled. As 
Nathanael Greene wryly remarked, in the militia 
every man considered himself a general. 

But Daniel Morgan was responsible for their lives 
and the lives of his Continentals, some of whom had 
marched doggedly from battlefield to battlefield for 
over four years. In the company of the Delaware 
Continentals who served beside the Marylanders in 
the light infantry brigade, there was a lieutenant 
named Thomas Anderson who kept track of the 
miles he had marched since they headed south in 
May 1780. At the end of each day he entered in his 
journal the ever-growing total. By January 16, it was 
1,435. No matter what the militia thought of him, 
Daniel Morgan was not going to throw away such 
men in a battle simply to prove his courage. 

Seldom has there been a better example of the 
difference between the professional and the amateur 
soldier. In his letters urging militiamen to join him, 
Morgan had warned them against the futility of 
fighting in such small detachments. He had asked 
them to come into his camp and subject themselves 
to "order and discipline ... so that I may be enabled 
to direct you ... to the advantage of the whole." 

In the same letters, Morgan had made a promise 
to these men. "I will ask you to encounter no 
dangers or difficulties, but what I shall participate 
in." If he retreated across the Broad, he would be 
exposing the men who refused to go with him to 
Tarleton's policy of extermination by fire and sword. 
If they went with him, their families, their friends, 
their homes would be abandoned to the young 
lieutenant colonel's vengeance. 

This conflict between prudence and his promise 
must have raged in Morgan's mind as his army toiled 
along the Green River Road. It was hard marching. 


The road dipped into hollows and looped around 
small hills. Swollen creeks cut across it. The woods 
were thick on both sides of it. At dusk, the Ameri- 
cans emerged from the forest onto a flat, lightly 
wooded tableland. At least, it looked flat at first 
glance. As Morgan led his men into it, he noted that 
the ground rose gradually to a slight crest, then 
dipped and rose to another slightly higher crest. Oak 
and hickory trees were dotted throughout the more 
or less rectangular area, but there was practically no 
underbrush. This was the Cowpens, a place where 
back-country people pastured their cattle and pre- 
pared them to be driven to market. 

In the distance, Morgan could see the Blue Ridge 
Mountains, which rise from the flat country beyond 
the Broad like a great rampart. They were 30 miles 
away. If they could reach them, the army was safe. 
But militia scouts brought in grim news. The river 
was rising. It would be a difficult business crossing at 
Island Ford in the dark. The ford was still 6 miles 
away, and the men were exhausted from their all-day 
march. If they rested at Cowpens and tried to cross 
the river the next morning, Banastre Tarleton, that 
soldier who liked to march by night, would be upon 
them, ready to slash them to pieces. 

Perhaps it was that report which helped Morgan 
make his decision. One suspects he almost wel- 
comed the news that the army was, for all practical 
purposes, trapped and fighting was the only alterna- 
tive. There was enough of the citizen-soldier in 
Morgan to dislike retreating almost as much as the 
average militiaman. 

The more Morgan studied the terrain around him, 
the more he liked it. The militia leaders were right. 
This was the best place to fight Tarleton. Sitting on 
his horse, looking down the slope to the Green River 
Road, Morgan noted the way the land fell off to the 
left and right toward several creeks. The Cowpens 
was bordered by marshy ground that would make it 
difficult for Tarleton to execute any sweeping flank 
movements with his cavalry. As his friend Richard 
Winn had told him, that was not Tarleton's style, 
anyway. He was more likely to come straight at the 
Americans with his infantry and cavalry in a head- 
long charge. Experience told Morgan there were 
ways to handle such an assault — tactics that 26-year- 
old Banastre Tarleton had probably never seen. 


Now the important thing was to communicate the 
will to fight. Turning to his officers, Morgan said, 
"On this ground I will beat Benny Tarleton or I will 
lay my bones." 

D Eleven to twelve hundred British, Daniel Mor- 
gan had written. Ironically, as Morgan ordered 
another retreat from this formidable foe, the British 
were barricading themselves in some log houses on 
the north bank of the Pacolet River, expecting an 
imminent attack from the patriots. Their spies had 
told them that Morgan had 3,000 men, and Tarleton 
was taking no chances. After seizing this strong 
point, only a few miles below Morgan's camp, he 
sent out a cavalry patrol. They soon reported that 
the Americans had "decamped." Tarleton immedi- 
ately advanced to Morgan's abandoned campsite, 
where his hungry soldiers were delighted to find 
"plenty of provisions which they had left behind 
them, half cooked." 

Nothing stirred Banastre Tarleton's blood more 
than a retreating enemy. British soldiers, famed for 
their tenacity in war, have often been compared to 
the bulldog. But Tarleton was more like the blood- 
hound. A fleeing foe meant the chance of an easy 
victory. It was not only instinct, it was part of his 
training as a cavalryman. 

"Patrols and spies were immediately dispatched to 
observe the Americans," Tarleton later recalled. 
The British Legion dragoons were ordered to follow 
Morgan until dark. Then the job was turned over to 
"other emissaries" — loyalists. Tarleton had about 50 
with him to act as scouts and spies. Early that 
evening, January 16, probably around the time that 
Morgan was deciding to fight at Cowpens, a party of 
loyalists brought in a militia colonel who had wan- 
dered out of the American line of march, perhaps in 
search of forage for his horse. Threatened with 
instant hanging, the man talked. He told Tarleton 
that Morgan hoped to stop at Cowpens and gather 
more militia. But the captive said that Morgan then 
intended to get across the Broad River, where he 
thought he would be safe. 

The information whetted Tarleton's appetite. It 
seemed obvious to him that he should "hang upon 
General Morgan's rear" to cut off any militia rein- 
forcements that might show up. If Morgan tried to 


cross the Broad, Tarleton would be in a position to 
"perplex his design," as he put it — a stuffy way of 
saying he could cut him to pieces. Around midnight, 
other loyalist scouts brought in a rumor of more 
American reinforcements on their way — a "corps of 
mountaineers." This sent a chill through the British, 
even through Tarleton. It sounded like the return of 
the mountain men who had helped destroy the loyal- 
ist army at Kings Mountain. It became more and 
more obvious to Tarleton that he should attack 
Morgan as soon as possible. 

About three in the morning of the 17th of January, 
Tarleton called in his sentries and ordered his drum- 
mers to rouse his men. Leaving 35 baggage wagons 
and 70 Negro slaves with a 100-man guard com- 
manded by a lieutenant, he marched his sleepy men 
down the rutted Green River Road, the same route 
Morgan had followed the previous day. The British 
found the marching hard in the dark. The ground, 
Tarleton later wrote, was "broken, and much inter- 
sected by creeks and ravines." Ahead of the column 
and on both flanks scouts prowled the woods to 
prevent an ambush. 

Describing the march, Tarleton also gave a precise 
description of his army. Three companies of light 
infantry, supported by the infantry of the British 
Legion, formed his vanguard. The light infantry 
were all crack troops, most of whom had been fight- 
ing in America since the beginning of the war. One 
company was from the 16th Regiment and had par- 
ticipated in some of the swift, surprise attacks for 
which light infantry was designed. They had been 
part of the British force that killed and wounded 150 
Americans in a night assault at Paoli, Pa., in the fall 
of 1777. The light company of the 71st Regiment had 
a similar record, having also been part of the light 
infantry brigade that the British organized early in 
the war. 

With these regulars marched another company of 
light infantry whose memories were not so grand — 
the green-coated men of the Prince of Wales Loyal 
American Volunteers. Northern loyalists, they had 
been in the war since 1777. They had seen little 
fighting until they sailed south in 1780. After the fall 
of Charleston, Cornwallis had divided them into 
detachments and used them to garrison small posts, 
with disastrous results. In August 1780 at Hanging 

Music made the soldier's life 
more tolerable on the march 
and in camp. But the most 
important use was in battle. 
Both the drum and the fife 
conveyed signals and orders 
over the din and confusion 
far better than the human 
voice. This iron fife is an 
original 18th-century instru- 
ment. The drum, according 
to tradition, was carried in 
the war. 


Legion cavalry 


fear and was ultimately self- 

The figures across these 
pages represent the main units 
of the cooly efficient battle 
machine that Tarleton led onto 
the field that winter day. 

Royal Artillery 

Private, 71st Highlanders 

Rock, Sumter had attacked one detachment, virtu- 
ally annihilating it. The colonel of the regiment was 
cashiered for cowardice. Another detachment was 
mauled by Francis Marion at Great Savannah around 
the same time. It was hardly a brilliant record. But 
this company of light infantry, supposedly the boldest 
and best of the regiment, might be eager to seek 
revenge for their lost comrades. 

Behind the light infantry marched the first battal- 
ion of the Royal Fusiliers of the 7th Regiment. This 
was one of the oldest regiments in the British army, 
with a proud history that went back to 1685. Known 
as the "City of London'' regiment, it had been in 
America since 1773. A detachment played a vital 
part in repulsing the December 31, 1775, attack on 
Quebec, which wrecked American plans to make 
Canada the 14th State. Among the 426 Americans 
captured was Daniel Morgan. Few if any of the men 
in Tarleton's ranks had been in that fight. The 
167-man battalion were all new recruits. When they 
arrived in Charleston early in December, the British 
commander there had described them to Cornwallis 
as ''so bad, not above a third can possibly move with 
a regiment." 

The British government was having problems re- 
cruiting men for America. It had never been easy to 
persuade Englishmen to join the army and endure its 
harsh discipline and low pay. Now, with the war in 
America growing more and more unpopular, army 
recruiters were scouring the jails and city slums. 
Cornwallis had decided to use these new recruits as 
garrison troops at Ninety Six. Tarleton, as we have 
seen earlier, had borrowed them for his pursuit. 
Although the 7th's motto was Nee aspera terrent 
("hardships do not frighten us"), it must have been an 
unnerving experience for these men, little more than 
a month after a long, debilitating sea voyage, to find 
themselves deep in the backwoods of South Caro- 
lina, marching through the cold, wet darkness to 
their first batde. 

Undoubtedly worsening the Fusiliers' morale was 
the low opinion their officers had of Banastre Tarle- 
ton. The commander of the regiment, Maj. Timothy 
Newmarsh, had stopped at a country house for the 
night about a week ago, during the early stage of the 
pursuit, and had not been discreet in voicing his 
fears for the safety of the expedition. He said he was 


certain they would be defeated, because almost 
every officer in the army detested Tarleton, who had 
been promoted over the heads of men who had been 
in the service before he was born. 

Behind the Royal Fusiliers trudged a 200-man 
battalion of the 71st Scottish Highlanders (Fraser's), 
who probably did not find the night march through 
the woods as forbidding as the city men of the 
Fusiliers. At least half were relatively new recruits 
who had arrived in America litde more than a year 
ago. The rest were veterans who had been cam- 
paigning in the rebellious colonies since 1776. They 
had sailed south to help the British capture Georgia 
in 1778 and had fought well in one of the most 
devastating royal victories of the southern cam- 
paign, the rout of the Americans at Briar Creek, Ga., 
in early 1779. They were commanded by Maj. Archi- 
bald McArthur, a tough veteran who had served with 
the Scottish Brigade in the Dutch army, considered 
one of the finest groups of fighting men in Europe. 

Between the 71st and the 7th Regiments plodded 
some 18 blue-coated royal artillerymen, leading 
horses carrying two brass cannon and 60 rounds of 
round shot and case shot (also known as canister 
because each "case'' was full of smaller bullet-size 
projectiles that scattered in flight). These light guns 
were considered an important innovation when they 
were introduced into the British army in 1775. 
Because they could be dismantled and carried on 
horses, they could be moved over rough terrain 
impassable to ordinary artillery with its cumbersome 
ammunition wagons. The two guns Tarleton had 
with him could also be fitted with shafts that enabled 
four men to carry them around a battlefield, if the 
ground was too muddy or rough for their carriages. 
With the shafts, they resembled grasshoppers, and 
this was what artillerymen, fond of nicknames for 
their guns, called them. 

The cannon added to Tarleton's confidence. They 
could hurl a 3-pound round shot almost 1,000 yards. 
There was little likelihood that Morgan had any 
artillery with him. All the southern army's artillery 
had been captured at Camden. These guns with 
Tarleton may have been two of the captured pieces, 
which had originally been captured from the British 
at Saratoga in 1777. 

Behind the infantry and artillery rode the cavalry 


John Eager Howard, Citizen-soldier 

Few field officers served the 
Continental Army with greater 
skill or devotion to duty than 
John Eager Howard. When 
the revolution broke out. he 
was 23, the son of a landed 
Maryland family, brought up 
in an atmosphere of ease and 
comfort. He saw his first 
hostile fire as a captain of 
militia at White Plains (1 776). 
The next year, as a major in 
the regulars, he helped lead 
the 4th Maryland at German- 
town. In the Southern Cam- 

paign of 1 780-81 , regiments 
he led fought with great cour- 
age at Camden, Cowpens, 
Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirks 
Hill, and Eutaw Springs. 
Nathanael Greene considered 
Howard "as good an officer as 
the world affords." After the 
war, Light-Horse Harry' Lee 
described Howard as "always 
to be found where the battle 
raged, pressing into close 
action to wrestle with fixed 

The silver medal awarded by 
Congress to Howard for ser- 
vice at Cowpens. 

Belvidere, the elegant estate 
that John Eager Howard 
built after the Revolution, 
stood in what is now down- 
town Baltimore. It was torn 
down a century ago and the 
land is now occupied by row 


A helmet of the 17th Light 
Dragoons, c. 1780. 

of the British Legion and a 50-man troop of the 17th 
Light Dragoons, giving Tarleton about 350 horse- 
men. In scabbards danghng from straps over their 
shoulders were the fearsome sabers that could lop 
off a man's arm with a single stroke. The Legion 
cavalry were, relatively speaking, amateurs, with 
only their courage and belief in their cause to 
animate them. The 17th Dragoons were regulars to 
the core, intensely proud of their long tradition. On 
their brass helmets they wore a death's head and 
below it a scroll with the words "or glory." They and 
their officers were somewhat disdainful of the Brit- 
ish Legion. 

Although their reputation among the patriots was 
good, the Legion had several times exhibited cow- 
ardice unthinkable to a 17th dragoon. When the 
British army advanced into Charlotte in the fall 
of 1780, they had been opposed by 75 or 80 back- 
country riflemen. Tarleton was ill with yellow fever 
and his second in command, Maj. George Hanger, 
had ordered them to charge the Americans. The 
Legion refused to budge. Not even the exhortations 
of Cornwallis himself stirred them until infantry had 
dislodged the riflemen from cover. They apparently 
remembered the punishment they had taken at 
Blackstocks, when Tarleton's orders had exposed 
them to sharpshooters. 

As dawn began turning the black night sky to 
charcoal gray, Tarleton ordered a select group of 
cavalry to the front of his infantry. They soon 
collided with American scouts on horseback and 
captured two of them. These captives told them that 
Morgan and his men were only a few miles away. 
Tarleton immediately ordered two troops of the 
Legion cavalry, under one of his best officers, Capt. 
David Ogilvie, to reinforce his vanguard. Ogilvie 
galloped into the murky dawn. Within a half hour, 
one of his troopers came racing back with unex- 
pected news. The patriots were not retreating! They 
were drawn up in an open wood in battle formation. 

Tarleton halted his army and summoned his loyal- 
ist guides. They instantly recognized the place where 
Morgan had chosen to fight — the Cowpens. It was 
familiar to everyone who had visited or lived in the 
South Carolina back country. They gave Tarleton a 
detailed description of the battleground. The woods 
were open and free from swamps. The Broad River 


was about six miles away. 

The ground, Tarleton decided, was made to order 
for the rebels' destruction. In fact, America could 
not produce a place more suitable to his style of war. 
His bloodhound instinct dominant, Banastre Tar- 
leton assumed that Morgan, having run away from 
him for two days, was still only trying to check his 
advance and gain time to retreat over the Broad 
River. Morgan failed to stop him at the Pacolet. He 
would fail even more disastrously here. With six miles 
of open country in the American's rear, Tarleton 
looked forward to smashing Morgan's ranks with 
an infantry attack and then unleashing his Legion 
horsemen to hunt down the fleeing survivors. Tarleton 
never dreamt that Daniel Morgan was planning to 
fight to the finish. 

/ While Tarleton's troops spent most of the night 
marching along the twisting, dipping Green River 
Road, Daniel Morgan's men had been resting at Cow- 
pens and listening to their general's battle plan. First 
Morgan outlined it for his officers, then he went from 
campfire to campfire explaining it to his men. 

The plan was based on the terrain at Cowpens and 
on the knowledge of Tarleton's battle tactics that 
Morgan had from such friends as Richard Winn. 
Morgan probably told his men what he repeated in 
later years — he expected nothing from Tarleton but 
"downright fighting." The young Englishman was 
going to come straight at them in an all-out charge. 

To repel that charge, Morgan adopted tactics he 
had himself helped design at Saratoga. There was a 
similarity between the little army he commanded at 
Cowpens and the men he led in northern New York. 
Like his old rifle corps, his militia were crack shots. 
But they could not stand up against a British bayonet 
charge. It took too long to load and fire a rifle, and it 
was not equipped with a bayonet. 

He had complete confidence in his Continentals. 
No regiment in the British army had a prouder tradi- 
tion than these men from Maryland and Delaware. 
They and their comrades in arms had demonstrated 
their heroism on a dozen battlefields. Above all, 
Morgan trusted their commander, Lt. Col. John 
Eager Howard of Maryland. At the battle of Ger- 
mantown in 1777, he had led his 4th Maryland Regi- 
ment in a headlong charge that drove the British 


An American canteen of light infantry in panicky flight from their battle line 

the type used by militia at b^^k to their tents. After the American defeat at 

owpens. Camden, Howard had rounded up the survivors of 

his own and other regiments and led them on a 
three-day march to Charlotte through swamps and 
forests to elude British pursuit. Someone asked what 
they had to eat during that time. "Some peaches," 
Howard said. 

Morgan was equally sure of the steadiness of the 
ex-Continentals who made up the bulk of his two 
^ \ ' companies of Virginia six-months militiamen. He 

"' told them that he was going to station them on either 

side of the Maryland and Delaware regulars, on the 
first crest of the almost invisibly rising slope that 
constituted Cowpens. A professional soldier would 
consider this the "military crest" because it was the 
high ground from which the best defense could be 
made. Behind this crest, the land sloped off to a 
slight hollow, and then rose to another slightly 
higher hump of earth, which was the geographical 
crest of the battleground. Here Morgan planned to 
post William Washington and his 80 dragoons. To 
make them more of a match for Tarleton's 300 horse- 
men, he called for volunteers to serve with Washing- 
ton. About 40 men stepped forward, led by Andrew 
Pickens' friend, James McCall. Morgan gave them 
sabers and told them to obey Washington's orders. 

There was nothing unusual or brilliant about this 
part of Morgan's battle plan. It was simply good 
sense and good tactics to select the most advanta- 
geous ground for his infantry and keep Washington's 
cavalry out of the immediate reach of Tarleton's far 
more numerous horsemen. It was in his plan for the 
militia that Morgan demonstrated his genius. At 
Camden, Horatio Gates had tried to use the militia 
as if they were regulars, positioning them in his 
battle line side by side with the Continentals. They 
swiftly demonstrated that they could not withstand a 
British bayonet charge. 

Morgan decided that he would use his militia in a 
different way. He put the backwoodsmen under the 
command of Andrew Pickens and carefully ex- 
plained what he wanted them to do. They were 
going to form a line about 150 yards ahead of 
Howard and the Continentals. They were to hold 
their fire until the British were within "killing dis- 
tance." They were to get off two or three shots and 


retreat behind the Continentals, who would carry on 
the battle while the militiamen re-formed and came 
back into the fight on the British flanks. 

A select group of riflemen, considered the best 
shots in the army, were to advance another hundred 
yards on both sides of the Green River Road and 
begin skirmishing with the British as soon as they 
appeared. This was the tactic Sumter had used at 
Blackstocks to tempt Tarleton into a reckless charge, 
and it had cost the British heavy casualties. 

His plan complete, Morgan did not retire to his 
tent, in the style of more autocratic generals, and 
await the moment of battle. He understood the 
importance of personal leadership. Above all, he 
knew how to talk to the militia. He was a man of the 
frontier, like them. Although he was crippled from 
his sciatica, he limped from group to group while 
they cooked their suppers and smoked their pipes, 
telling them how sure he was that they could whip 
"Benny." Sixteen-year-old Thomas Young was among 
the cavalry volunteers. He remembered how Morgan 
helped them to fix their sabers, joked with them 
about their sweethearts, told them to keep up their 
courage and victory was certain. 

"Long after I laid down," Young recalled, "he was 
going among the soldiers encouraging them and 
telling them that the 'Old Wagoner' would crack his 
whip over Ben in the morning, as sure as they lived." 

"Just hold up your heads, boys, give them three 
fires, and you will be free," Morgan told them. "Then 
when you return to your homes, how the old folks will 
bless you, and the girls will kiss you." "I don't believe 
that he slept a wink that night," Young said later. 

Many of these young militiamen had something 
else to motivate them — a fierce resentment of the 
way the British and loyalists had abused, and in some 
cases killed, their friends and relatives. Thomas 
Young's brother, John, had been shot down in the 
spring of 1780 when loyalist militia attacked the 
Youngs' regiment. "I do not believe I had ever used 
an oath before that day," Young said. "But then I 
tore open my bosom and swore that I would never 
rest until I had avenged his death." 

Another South Carolinian, 17-year-old James 
Collins, had fought with Sumter and other militia 
leaders since the fall of Charleston. He remembered 
with particular anger the swath of desolation left by 

A powder horn and linstock 
like the ones below were es- 
sential tools for artillerymen. 
They primed the cannon by 
pouring powder into a vent 
leading to the charge and 
fired it by touching the burn- 
ing hemp on the tip of the lin- 
stock to the vent. The gunners 
serving the two 3-pounder 
"grasshoppers" at Cowpens 
used such equipment. 



Morgan's Army 

On paper Morgan's army was 
inferior. The British numbered 
some 1 1 00, all regulars and 
most of them tested in battle. 
Morgan had at best a little 
over 800 troops, and half of 
them were militia. Numbers, 
though, deceive, for Morgan's 
army was in fact a first-rate 
detachment of light infantry, 
needing only leadership to 
win victories. 

The core of Morgan's army 
was a mixed brigade of Mary- 
land and Delaware Continen- 
tals under Col. John Eager 
Howard, about 320 men. They 
were supported by 80 or so 
Continental dragoons under 
Col. William Washington. 


Maryland Continental ^ 

These Continentals were tough 
and experienced. Morgan's 
militia were better material 
than the green troops who 
folded at Camden and later 
ran away at Guilford. Some 
200 were ex-Continentals from 
Virginia. Morgan thought 
enough of them to employ 
them in the main battle line. 
The other militia were recruited 
by that wily partisan leader, 

Andrew Pickens, and William 
Davidson, a superb militia 
general. It's unlikely that such 
able commanders would have 
filled their ranks with the 
wavering and shiftless. 

Morgan knew the worth of 
these troops and deployed 
them in a way that made the 
most of their strengths and 
minimized their weakness. 
They rewarded him with a 

victory still marveled at two 
centuries later. 

These figures represent the 
units in Morgan's command. 



Virginia militiaman 


Carolina militiaman 


loyalists when they plundered rebel Americans on 
the east side of the Broad. "Women were insulted 
and stripped of every article of decent clothing they 
might have on and every article of bedding, clothing 
or furniture was taken— knives, forks, dishes, spoons. 
Not a piece of meat or a pint of salt was left. They 
even entered houses where men lay sick of the 
smallpox . . . dragged them out of their sick beds into 
the yard and put them to death in cold blood in the 
presence of their wives and children. We were too 
weak to repel them. . . ." 

Collins and his friends had joined Sumter, only to 
encounter Tarleton at Fishing Creek. "It was a 
perfect rout and an indiscriminate slaughter," he 
recalled. Retreating to the west, Collins described 
how they lived before Morgan and his regulars 
arrived to confront the British and loyalists. "We 
kept a flying camp, never staying long in one place, 
never camping near a public road . . . never stripping 
off saddles." When they ate, "each one sat down 
with his sword by his side, his gun lying across his lap 
or under the seat on which he sat." It soon became 
necessary "for their safety," Collins said, to join 
Morgan. At Cowpens, men like James Collins were 
fighting for their lives. 

Equally desperate — and angry— were men like 
Joseph Hughes, whose father had been killed by the 
loyalists. Hughes had been living as an "out-lier," 
hiding in the woods near his home with a number of 
other men who remained loyal to militia colonel 
Thomas Brandon. One day he ventured out to visit 
his family. As he approached the house, three loyal- 
ists sprang out of the door with leveled guns, shout- 
ing: "You damned Rebel, you are our prisoner!" 
Hughes wheeled his horse and leaped the gate to 
escape the hail of bullets. 

At Cowpens, Hughes, though still in his teens, was 
given command of a company of militia. Probably by 
his side was his close friend, William Kennedy, 
considered one of the best shots in South Carolina. 
His prowess with the rifle had discouraged loyalists 
from venturing into the rebel settlement at Fair- 
forest Shoals. His gun had a peculiar crack which his 
friends recognized. When they heard it, they often 
said: "There is another Tory less." 

The men who had turned out to fight for Andrew 
Pickens had no illusions about what would happen 


to them if they were captured. Like their leader, they 
were violators of their paroles, liable to instant 
execution if captured. On the night of the 16th, 
Cornwallis, in his camp at Turkey Creek on the 
other side of the Broad, demonstrated what else 
would happen to their families. He wrote out an 
order for Cruger at Ninety Six. "If Colonel Pickens 
has left any Negroes, cattle or other property that 
may be useful ... I would have it seized accordingly 
and I desire that his houses may be burned and his 
plantations as far as lies in your power totally de- 
stroyed and himself if ever taken instantly hanged.'' 
The order was executed the moment it was received 
at Ninety Six. Rebecca Pickens and her children were 
hurried into the January cold to watch their house, 
barns, and other outbuildings become bonfires. 

The 200 Georgians and South Carolinians in 
Morgan's army were all veterans of numerous bat- 
tles, most of them fought under Elijah Clarke's 
command. With their leader wounded, they were 
now commanded by James Jackson and John Cun- 
ningham. Morgan had largely relied on Jackson to 
rally them. Like most of Morgan's men, he was 
young, only 23. He had fought Tarleton at Black- 
stocks, where he had ducked bullets to seize the 
guns of dead British to continue the fight after his 
men ran out of ammunition. In one respect, Jackson 
was unusual. He had been born in England. He 
arrived in America in 1774 and seems to have 
become an instant Georgian, right down to extreme 
pugnacity and a prickly sense of honor. He had 
recently quarreled with the rebel lieutenant gover- 
nor of Georgia, challenged him to a duel, and killed 
him. Morgan appointed Jackson brigade major of the 
militia, making him Pickens' second in command. 

At least as formidable as Jackson's veterans were 
the 140 North Carolinians under Maj. Joseph 
McDowell. They had fought at Musgrove's Mill and 
in other battles in the summer of 1780 and had 
scrambled up the slopes of Kings Mountain to help 
destroy the loyalist army entrenched there. 

Well before dawn, Morgan sent cavalry under a 
Georgian, Joshua Inman, to reconnoiter the Green 
River Road. They bumped into Tarleton's advance 
guard and hastily retreated. Into the Cowpens they 
pounded to shout the alarm. 

Morgan seemed to be everywhere on his horse, 


rousing the men. ''Boys, get up Benny is coming," he 
shouted. Quickly mihtia and Continentals got on 
their feet and bolted down cold hominy they had 
cooked the night before. Morgan ordered the bag- 
gage wagons to depart immediately to a safe place, 
about a mile in the rear. The militiamen's horses 
were tied to trees, under a guard, closer to the rear 
of the battle line. 

Morgan rode down to the picked riflemen who 
were going to open the fight and told them he had 
heard a lot of tall tales about who were the better 
shots, the men of Georgia or Carolina. Here was the 
chance to settle the matter and save their country in 
the bargain. ''Let me see which are most entitled to 
the credit of brave men, the boys of Carolina or those 
of Georgia," he roared. By positioning Georgians on 
the left of the road and Carolinians on the right, 
Morgan shrewdly arranged to make his competition 
highly visible. 

To Pickens' men Morgan made a full-fledged 
speech, reminding them of what the British had 
already done to their friends and many of their 
families. He pounded his fist in his hand and told 
them that this was their moment of revenge. He also 
praised the courage with which they had fought the 
British in earlier skirmishes, Vvithout the help of 
regulars or cavalry. Here they had the support of 
veterans in both departments. He had not the slight- 
est doubt of victory if they obeyed their orders and 
fought like men. He told them his experiences with 
his rifle regiment at Saratoga and other battles, 
where they had beaten the flower of the British 
army, generals far more distinguished than Benny 
Tarleton and regiments far more famous than the 
units Tarleton was leading. 

To his Continentals, Morgan made an even more 
emotional speech. He called them "my friends in 
arms, my dear boys," and asked them to remember 
Saratoga, Monmouth, Paoli, Brandywine. "This day," 
he said, "you must play your parts for honor and 
liberty's cause." He restated his battle plan, remind- 
ing them that after two or three rounds the militia 
would retreat under orders. They would not be 
running away. They would be falling back to re- 
group and harry the enemy's flanks. 

A Delaware soldier watching Morgan's perform- 
ance said that by the time he was through, there was 


not a man in the army who was not "in good spirits 
and very wiUing to fight." 

The blood-red rising sun crept above the hills 
along the slopes of Thicketty Mountain to the east. 
The men stamped their feet and blew on their hands 
to keep warm. It was cold, but the air was crisp and 
clear. The mighty ramparts of the Blue Ridge were 
visible, 30 miles away. Much too distant for a refuge 
now, even if the swollen Broad River did not lie 
between them and Morgan's men. 

Suddenly the British army was emerging from the 
woods along the Green River Road. The green- 
coated dragoons at their head slowed and then 
stopped. So did the red-coated light infantry behind 
them. An officer in a green coat rode to the head of 
the column and studied the American position. 
Everyone in the rebel army recognized him. It was 
Banastre Tarleton. 

O Tarleton soon found his position at the head of 
the column was hazardous. The Georgia and Caro- 
lina riflemen drifted toward him through the trees on 
either side of the road. Pop pop went their rifles. 
Bullets whistled close to Tarleton's head. He turned 
to the 50 British Legion dragoons commanded by 
Captain Ogilvie and ordered them to ''drive in" the 
skirmishers. With a shout the dragoons charged. The 
riflemen rested their weapons against convenient 
trees and took steady aim. Again the long barrels 
blazed. Dragoons cried out and pitched from their 
saddles, horses screamed in pain. The riflemen 
flitted back through the open woods, reloading as 
they ran, a trick that continually amazed the British. 
Some whirled and fired again, and more dragoons 
crashed to earth. In a minute or two the riflemen 
were safely within the ranks of Pickens' militia. The 
dragoons recoiled from this array of fire power and 
cantered back toward the British commander. They 
had lost 15 out of their 50 men. 

Tarleton meanwhile continued studying the rebel 
army. At a distance of about 400 yards he was able to 
identify Pickens' line of militia, whose numbers he 
guessed to be about a thousand. He estimated the 
Continentals and Virginia six-month militia in the 
second line at about 800. Washington's cavalry on 
the crest behind the Continentals he put at 120, his 
only accurate figure. 

Few officers saw more com- 
bat than William Washing- 
ton, a distant cousin of 
George. He was a veteran of 
many battles— among them 
Long Island and Trenton in 
1776, Charleston in 1780, and 
Cowpens, Guilford, Hob kirks 
Hill, and Eu taw Springs in 
J 781 — and numerous skir- 
mishes. Thrice he was 
wounded, the last time at 
Eutaw Springs, where he was 
captured. His fellow cavalry- 
man, Eight-Horse Harry ' 
Lee described him as of "a 
stout frame, being six feet in 
height, broad, strong, and 
corpulent . . . in temper he 
was good-humored. . . . Bold, 
collected, and persevering, 
he preferred the heat of 
action to the collection and 
sifting of intelligence, 
to the calculations and 
combinations of means and 
measures. ..." 


The British carried at least 
two flags into battle: the 
King 's standard and the colors 
of the 7th Fusiliers (below). 
Both were captured by 
Morgan 's troops. 

The only reasonably sure 
patriot flag on the field was a 
damask color, cut from the 
back of a chair, that Wash- 
ington's dragoons carried 
(opposite). The original, which 
measures only 18 inches by 
18, is in the collection of the 
Washington Light Infantry 
Corps of Charleston. 

Tarleton was not in the least intimidated by these 
odds, even though his estimates doubled Morgan's 
actual strength. He was supremely confident that his 
regular infantry could sweep the riflemen and militia 
off the field, leaving only the outnumbered Conti- 
nentals and cavalry. The ground looked level enough 
to repeat the Waxhaws rout. In his self-confidence 
and growing battle fever, he did not even bother to 
confer on a tactical plan with Newmarsh of the 
Fusiliers or McArthur of the Highlanders. He simply 
issued them orders to form a line of battle. The 
infantry was told to drop their heavy packs and 
blanket rolls. The light infantry companies were 
ordered to file to the right, until they extended as far 
as the flank of the militia facing them. The Legion 
infantry was ordered into line beside them. Next 
came a squad of blue-coated artillerymen with their 
brass grasshopper. They unpacked their gun and 
ammunition boxes and mounted them on the wheeled 
carriage with professional speed. In the Royal Artil- 
lery school at Woolrich the men who designed the 
gun estimated this task should take no more than 
two minutes. 

The light infantry and Legion infantry were now 
told to advance a hundred yards, while the Fusiliers 
moved into line on their left. The other grasshopper 
was placed on the right of this regiment, no doubt to 
bolster the courage of the raw recruits. The two guns 
began hurling shot into the woods, firing at the 
riflemen who were filtering back to potshot the 
tempting red and green targets. 

On each flank, Tarleton posted a captain and 50 
dragoons, more than enough, he thought, to protect 
his infantry from a cavalry charge. 

Tarleton ordered the Highlanders to form a line 
about 150 yards in the rear of the Fusiliers, slightly to 
their left. These veteran Scots and 200 Legion 
cavalry were his reserve, to be committed to the 
fight when they were most needed. 

Everywhere Tarleton looked, he later recalled, he 
saw "the most promising assurance of success." The 
officers and men were full of fire and vigor. Every 
order had been obeyed with alacrity. There was not 
a sign of weariness, though his men had marched 
half the night. They had been chasing these Ameri- 
cans for two weary weeks. They knew that if they 
beat them here, the war in South Carolina would be 


over. To make this a certainty, Banastre Tarleton 
issued a cruel order. They were to give no quarter, 
take no prisoners. 

The order might have made some gruesome sense 
as far as the miUtia was concerned. Almost every 
one of them was considered a criminal, fighting in 
direct violation of the law as laid down by His 
Majesty's officers in numerous proclamations. Kill- 
ing them would save the trouble of hanging them. 
But to order his men to give no quarter to Morgan's 
Continentals was a blatant violation of the rules of 
war under which both sides had fought for the past 
five years. It was graphic glimpse of the rage which 
continued American resistance was igniting in Eng- 
lishmen like Banastre Tarleton. 

One British officer in the battle later said that 
Major Newmarsh was still posting the officers of the 
Fusiliers, the last regiment into line, when Tarleton 
ordered the advance to begin. With a tremendous 
shout, the green- and red-coated line surged forward. 

From the top of the slope, Morgan called on his 
men to reply. 'They give us the British haloo, boys," 
he cried. "Give them the Indian haloo." A howl of 
defiance leaped from 800 American throats. Simul- 
taneously, the Georgians and North Carolinians 
opened fire behind the big trees. Some of the new 
recruits of the Fusiliers regiment revealed their 
nervousness by firing back. Their officers quickly 
halted this tactical violation. British infantry fired by 
the volley, and the riflemen were out of musket 
range anyway. Rifles outshot muskets by 150 yards. 

Morgan watched the riflemen give the British 
infantry ''a heavy and galling fire" as they advanced. 
But the sharpshooters made no pretense of holding 
their ground. Morgan had ordered them to fall back 
to Pickens' militia and join them for serious fighting. 
On the British came, their battle drums booming, 
their fifes shrilling, the two brass cannon barking. 
The artillerymen apparently did not consider the 
militiamen an important target. They blasted at the 
Continentals on the crest. Most of their rounds 
whizzed over the heads of the infantry and came 
dangerously close to Colonel Washington and his 
horsemen. He led his men to a safer position on the 
slope of the geographical crest, behind the left wing 
of the main American line. 

Andrew Pickens and his fellow colonels, all on 


Tarleton's Order of Battle 

Legion dragoons (two troops) 
Light infantry companies of 

the 16th, 7 J St, and Prince 

of Wales regiments 
Legion infantry 
7th Fusiliers 
Royal artillery 
7 1 St Highlander regulars 
1 7th Light Dragoons 
Legion dragoons 

This is the order in which 
Tarleton deployed his units 
on the battlefield. 

horseback, urged the miHtia to hold their fire, to 
aim low and pick out "the epaulette men" — the 
British officers with gold braid on their shoulders. 

It was no easy task to persuade these men not to 
fire while those 16-inch British bayonets bore down 
on them, glistening wickedly in the rising sun. The 
closer they got, the more difficult it would be to 
reload their clumsy muskets and get off another shot 
before the British were on top of them. But the 
musket was a grossly inaccurate weapon at anything 
more than 30 yards. This was the "killing distance" 
for which Pickens and Morgan wanted the men to 
wait. The steady fire of the grasshoppers, expertly 
served by the British artillerymen, made the wait 
even more harrowing. 

Then came the moment of death. "Fire," snarled 
Andrew Pickens. "Fire," echoed his colonels up and 
down the line. The militia muskets and rifles belched 
flame and smoke. The British line recoiled as bullets 
from over 300 guns hurtled among them. Every- 
where officers, easily visible at the heads of their 
companies, went down. It was probably here that 
Newmarsh of the Fusiliers, who had been so pessi- 
mistic about fighting under Tarleton, fell with a 
painful wound. But confidence in their favorite 
weapon, the bayonet, and the knowledge that they 
were confronting militia quickly overcame the shock 
of this first blow. The red and green line surged 
forward again. 

Thomas Young, sitting on his horse among Wash- 
ington's cavalry, later recalled the noise of the 
battle. "At first it v/ns pop pop pop (the sound of the 
rifles) and then a whole volley," he said. Then the 
regulars fired a volley. "It seemed like one sheet of 
flame from right to left," Young said. 

The British were not trained to aim and fire. Their 
volley firing was designed to intimidate more than to 
kill. It made a tremendous noise and threw a cloud 
of white smoke over the battlefield. Most of the 
musket balls flew high over the heads of the Ameri- 
cans. Decades later, visitors to Cowpens found bul- 
lets embedded in tree trunks as high as 30 feet from 
the ground. 

Out of the smoke the regulars came, bayonets 
leveled. James Collins was among the militiamen 
who decided that the two shots requested by Morgan 
was more than they could manage. "We gave the 


enemy one fire,'" he recalled. "When they charged us 
with their bayonets we gave way and retreated for 
our horses." 

Most of the militia hurried around Morgan's left 
flank, following Pickens and his men. A lesser 
number may have found the right flank more con- 
venient. The important thing, as far as they were 
concerned, was to escape those bayonets and reach 
the position where Morgan promised them they 
would be protected by Howard's Continentals and 
Washington's cavalry. Watching from the military 
crest, Sgt. William Seymour of the Delaware Con- 
tinentals thought the militia retreated "in very good 
order, not seeming to be in the least confused." Thus 
far, Morgan's plan was working smoothly. 

Tarleton ordered the 50 dragoons on his right 
flank to pursue Pickens and the bulk of the militia. 
If, as he later claimed, the British commander had 
seen William Washington and his 120 cavalry at the 
beginning of the battle, this order was a blunder. 
With 200 cavalrymen in reserve, waiting a summons 
to attack, Tarleton sent 50 horsemen to face twice 
their number of mounted Americans. He may have 
assumed that Morgan was using standard battle 
tactics and regarded Washington's cavalry as his 
reserve, which he would not commit until necessity 
required it. The British commander never dreamt 
that the Old Wagoner had made a solemn promise to 
the militiamen that he would protect them from the 
fearsome green dragoons at all costs. 

As the militia retreated, Tarleton's cavalry thun- 
dered down on them, their deadly sabers raised. 
"Now," thought James Collins, "my hide is in the 
loft." A wild melee ensued, with the militiamen 
dodging behind trees, parrying the slashing sabers 
with their gun barrels. "They began to make a few 
hacks at some," Collins said, "thinking they would 
have another Fishing Creek frolic." As the militia- 
men dodged the swinging sabers, the British dra- 
goons lost all semblance of a military formation and 
became "pretty much scattered," Collins said. 

At that moment, "Col. Washington's cavalry was 
among them like a whirlwind," Collins exultantly 
recalled. American sabers sent dragoons keeling 
from their horses. "The shock was so sudden and 
violent, they could not stand it, and immediately 
betook themselves to flight," Collins said. "They 


appeared to be as hard to stop as a drove of wild 
Choctaw steers, going to Pennsylvania market." 
Washington's cavalry hotly pursued them and "in a 
few minutes the clashing of swords was out of 
hearing and quickly out of sight." 

Thomas Young was one of the South Carolina 
volunteers in this ferocious charge. He was riding a 
"little tackey" — a very inferior horse — which put 
him as a disadvantage. When he saw one of the 
British dragoons topple from his saddle, he executed 
"the quickest swap 1 ever made in my life" and 
leaped onto "the finest horse I ever rode." Young 
said the American charge carried them through the 
50 dragoons, whereupon they wheeled and attacked 
them in the rear. On his new steed he joined 
Washington's pursuit of the fleeing British. 

In spite of William Washington's victorious strike, 
many militiamen decided that Cowpens was unsafe 
and leaped on their horses and departed. Among the 
officers who took prompt action to prevent further 
panic was young Joseph Hughes. Although blood 
streamed from a saber cut on his right hand, he drew 
his sword and raced after his fleeing company. 
Outrunning them, he whirled and flailed at them 
with the flat of his blade, roaring, "You damned 
cowards, halt and fight — there is more danger in 
running than in fighting." 

Andrew Pickens rode among other sprinters, shout- 
ing, "Are you going to leave your mothers, sisters, 
sweethearts and wives to such unmerciful scoun- 
drels, such a horde of thieves?" 

On the battlefield, volley after volley of musketry 
thundered, cannon boomed. The Continentals and 
the British regulars were slugging it out. Daniel 
Morgan rode up to the milling militiamen, waving 
his sword and roaring in a voice that outdid the 
musketry: "Form, form, my brave fellows. Give 
them one more fire and the day is ours. Old Morgan 
was never beaten." 

Would they fight or run? For a few agonizing 
moments, the outcome of the battle teetered on the 
response of these young backwoodsmen. 

y On the other side of the crest behind which 
Morgan and Pickens struggled to rally the militia, 
Banastre Tarleton was absorbed in pressing home 
the attack with his infantry. He seems to have paid 


no attention to the rout of his cavalry on the right. 
Nor did any of his junior officers in the Legion 
attempt to support the fleeing dragoons with rein- 
forcements from the 200-man cavalry reserve. At 
this point in the battle, Tarleton badly needed a 
second in command who had the confidence to 
make on-the-spot decisions. One man cannot be 
everywhere on a battlefield. Unfortunately for Tarle- 
ton, Maj. George Hanger, his second in command, 
was in a hospital in Camden, slowly recovering from 
yellow fever. 

With the militia out of the way, the British infantry 
had advanced on the Continentals and begun blast- 
ing volleys of musketry at them. The Continentals 
volleyed back. Smoke enveloped the battlefield. 
Tarleton later claimed the fire produced "much 
slaughter," but it is doubtful that either side could 
see what they were shooting at after the first few 
rounds. The British continued to fire high, hitting 
few Continentals. 

To Tarleton, the contest seemed "equally bal- 
anced," and he judged it the moment to throw in his 
reserve. He ordered Major McArthur and his 71st 
Highlanders into the battle line to the left of the 
Fusiliers. This gave Tarleton over 700 infantrymen in 
action to the rebels' 420. Simultaneously, Tarleton 
ordered the cavalry troop on the left to form a line 
and swing around the American right flank. 

These orders, shouted above the thunder of 
musketry and the boom of the cannon, were 
promptly obeyed. On the crest of the hill, Howard 
saw the British threat developing. Once men are 
outflanked and begin to be hit with bullets from two 
sides, they are in danger of being routed. Howard 
ordered the Virginia militia on his right to "change 
their front" to meet this challenge. This standard 
battlefield tactic requires a company to wheel and 
face a flanking enemy. 

A battlefield is a confusing place, and the Vir- 
ginians, though mostly trained soldiers, were not 
regulars who had lived and drilled together over the 
previous months. Their captain shouted the order 
given him by Howard, and the men wheeled and 
began marching toward the rear. The Maryland and 
Delaware Continentals, seeing this strange depar- 
ture, noting that it was done in perfect order and 
with deliberation, assumed that they had missed an 

Ati office' r of the Maryland 
Regiment. He carries a spon- 
toon, which is both a hadj^e 
of office and in close combat 
a useful weapon. 


order to fall back. They wheeled and followed the 
Virginians. On the opposite flank, the other com- 
pany of Virginians repeated this performance. In 60 
seconds the whole patriot line was retreating. 

Behind the geographical crest of the hill, Morgan 
and Pickens had managed to steady and reorganize 
the militia. Morgan galloped back toward the mili- 
tary crest on which he assumed the Continentals 
were still fighting. He was thunderstruck to find 
them retreating. In a fury, he rode up to Howard and 
cried: ''Are you beaten?" 

Howard pointed to his unbroken ranks and told 
Morgan that soldiers who retreated in that kind of 
order were not beaten. Morgan agreed and told him 
to stay with the men and he would ride back and 
choose the place where the Continentals should turn 
and rally. The Old Wagoner spurred his horse ahead 
toward the geographical crest of the hill, about 50 
paces behind their first line. 

On the British side of the battlefield, the sight of 
the retreating Continentals revived hopes of an easy 
victory. Major McArthur of the 71st sought out 
Tarleton and urged him to order the cavalry reserve 
to charge and turn the retreat into a rout. Tarleton 
claimed that he sent this order to the cavalry, who 
were now at least 400 yards away from the vortex of 
the battle. Perhaps he did. It would very probably 
have been obeyed if it had arrived in time. The 
dragoons of the British Legion liked nothing so 
much as chopping up a retreating enemy. 

But events now occurred with a rapidity that made 
it impossible for the cavalry to respond. The center 
of Tarleton's line of infantry surged up the slope 
after the Continentals, bayonets lowered, howling 
for American blood. With almost half their officers 
dead or wounded by now, they lost all semblance of 
military formation. 

Far down the battlefield, where he had halted his 
pursuit of the British cavalry, William Washington 
saw what was happening. He sent a horseman racing 
to Morgan with a terse message. "They are coming 
on like a mob. Give them another fire and I will 
charge them." Thomas Young, riding with Washing- 
ton, never forgot the moment. 'The bugle sounded," 
he said. "We made a half circuit at full speed and 
came upon the rear of the British line shouting and 
charging like madmen." 


Simultaneously, Morgan reached the geographical 
crest of the slope, with the Continentals only a few 
steps behind him. He roared out an order to turn and 
fire. The Continentals wheeled and threw a blast of 
concentrated musketry into the faces of the charging 
British. Officers and men toppled. The line recoiled. 

"Give them the bayonet,'' bellowed John Eager 

With a wild yell, the Continentals charged. The 
astonished British panicked. Some of them, probably 
the Fusiliers, flung themselves faced down on the 
ground begging for mercy. Others, Thomas Young 
recalled, "took to the wagon road and did the 
prettiest sort of running away." 

At almost the same moment, the Highlanders, 
whose weight, if they had joined the charge, would 
probably have been decisive, received an unex- 
pected blast of musketry from their flank. Andrew 
Pickens and the militia had returned to the battle. 
The backwoodsmen blazed at the Scotsmen, the 
riflemen among them concentrating on the screen of 
the cavalrymen. The cavalry fled and McArthur's 
men found themselves fighting a private war with the 

Astonished and appalled, Tarleton sent an officer 
racing to the British Legion cavalry with orders for 
them to form a line of battle about 400 yards away, 
on the left of the road. He rode frantically among 
his fleeing infantry, trying to rally them. His first 
purpose was "to protect the guns." To lose a cannon 
was a major disgrace in 18th-century warfare. The 
artillerymen were the only part of the British center 
that had not succumbed to the general panic. They 
continued to fire their grasshoppers, while the infan- 
try threw down their muskets or ran past them helter 
skelter. Part of the artillery's tradition was an abso- 
lute refusal to surrender. They lived by the code of 
victory or death. 

Once past the surrendering infantry, the Conti- 
nentals headed for the cannon. Like robots— or very 
brave men — the artillerymen continued to fire until 
every man except one was shot down or bayonetted. 

The last survivor of the other gun crew was the 
man who touched the match to the powder vent. A 
Continental called on him to surrender this tool. The 
artilleryman refused. As the Continental raised his 
bayonet to kill him, Howard came up and blocked 


the blow with his sword. A man that brave, the 
colonel said, deserved to live. The artilleryman 
surrendered the match to Howard. 

Up and down the American line on the crest rang 
an ominous cry. "Give them Tarleton's quarter.'' 
Remembering Waxhaws, the regulars and their Vir- 
ginia militia cousins were ready to massacre the 
surrendered British. But Daniel Morgan, the epit- 
ome of battle fury while the guns were firing, was a 
humane and generous man. He rode into the shout- 
ing infantrymen, ordering them to let the enemy live. 
Junior officers joined him in enforcing the order. 

Discipline as well as mercy made the order advisa- 
ble. The battle was not over. The Highlanders were 
still fighting fiercely against Pickens' men. Tarleton 
was riding frantically toward his Legion cavalry to 
bring them back into the battle. But the militia 
riflemen were back on the field and Tarleton was 
their prime target. Bullets whistled around him as he 
rode. Several hit his horse. The animal crashed to 
the ground. Tarleton sprang up, his saber ready. Dr. 
Robert Jackson, assistant surgeon of the 71st, gal- 
loped to the distraught lieutenant colonel and of- 
fered him his horse. Tarleton refused. For a moment 
he seemed ready to die on the chaotic battlefield 
with his men. Dr. Jackson urged him again. Spring- 
ing off his horse, he told Tarleton, "Your safety is of 
the highest importance to the army." 

Tarleton mounted Jackson's horse and rode to 
rally his troops. Fastening a white handkerchief to 
his cane, Jackson strolled toward the all-but-victorious 
Americans. No matter how the battle ended, he 
wanted to stay alive to tend the wounded. 

Looking over his shoulder at the battlefield, Tarle- 
ton clung to a shred of hope. An all-out charge by 
the cavalry could still "retrieve the day," he said 
later. The Americans were "much broken by their 
rapid advance." 

But the British Legion had no appetite for another 
encounter with the muskets of Andrew Pickens' 
militia. "All attempts to restore order, recollection 
I of past glory] or courage, proved fruitless," Tarleton 
said. No less than 200 Legion dragoons wheeled their 
horses and galloped for safety in the very teeth of 
Tarleton's harangue. Fourteen officers and 40 dra- 
goons of the 17th Regiment obeyed his summons and 
charged with him toward the all-but-disintegrated 


stages of the Battle 

Because the battle was a continuous flow of 
action from the opening skirmish to the 
pell-mell flight of the Legion dragoons at the 
end, the important maneuvers cannot all be 
shown on a single map. This sequence of maps 
diagrams the main stages of the battle. 

1 . Skirmishers drive back Tarleton's cavalry, 
sent forward to examine the enemy's lines, and 
then withdraw into Pickens' line of militia. 
Without pausing, Tarleton forms his line of 

2. The British advance on Pickens' militia, 
who deliver the promised two shots each and 
fall back on the flanks. When they are pursued 
by British dragoons, Washington's cavalry 
charges into action and drives them off. 

3. Howard's Continentals rout the British in 
the center, supported by cavalry on the left and 
militia on the right. 

How to read these battle diagrams 

British positions are shown in RED, American 
in BLUE. Open boxes show former positions, 
arrows movement. Clashes are shown by stars. 
Modern features, included for orientation, 
appear in gray. 















Ua^./ :£aU4j^ 

Preceding pages This per- 
spective by the artist Richard 
Schlecht compresses the 
whole battle into one view. 
The open woods in the 
foreground (A) is littered 
with British shot down by 
Pickens' skirmishers. At the 
far right (B) Washington 's 
cavalry drive back the British 
dragoons pursuing Pickens ' 
militia. Along the third line 

(C) Howard's Continentals 
repulse the attacking British 
regulars with volleys and 
bayonets. On Tarleton 's left 

(D) the 7 J St is engaged in a 
hot contest with militia, some 
of whom had returned to the 
battle after firing their two 
shots and withdrawing. They 
hit Tarleton 's left flank hard 
while Howard's troops rout 
the British in the center, 
giving Morgan the victory. A 
gem of tactical planning and 
maneuver, it was by far the 
patriot 's best fought battle of 
the war. 

The painting conveys a 
close sense of the original 
terrain with its scattered 
hardwoods and undulating 
ground that Morgan turned 
to good use. The axis of the 
battlefield, then as now, is 
the old Green River Road, 
which runs diagonally across 
the scene. The diverging road 
at left was not there at the 
time of the battle. 

British battle line. Their chief hope was to save the 
cannon and rescue some small consolation from the 

They never got there. Instead, they collided with 
William Washington's cavalry that had wheeled after 
their assault on the rear of the infantry and begun a 
pursuit of the scampering redcoats, calling on them 
to surrender, sabering those who refused. Washing- 
ton shouted an order to meet the British charge. 
Most of his horsemen, absorbed in their pursuit of 
the infantry, did not hear him. Washington, leading 
the charge, did not realize he was almost unsup- 
ported. The burly Virginian, remembering his humil- 
iating defeat at Lenuds Ferry in May 1780, had a 
personal score to settle with Banastre Tarleton. He 
headed straight for him. 

Tarleton and two officers accepted Washington's 
challenge. The Virginian slashed at the first man, 
but his saber snapped at the hilt. As the officer stood 
up in his stirrups, his saber raised for a fatal stroke, 
Washington's bugler boy rode up and fired at the 
Englishman. The second officer was about to make a 
similar stroke when the sergeant-major of the 3d 
Continental Dragoons arrived to parry the blow and 
slash this assailant's sword arm. Tarleton made a 
final assault. Washington parried his blow with his 
broken sword. From his saddle holsters, Tarleton 
drew two pistols in swift succession and fired at 
Washington. One bullet wounded Washington's horse. 

By this time Tarleton saw that the battle was totally 
lost. The riflemen were running toward his horse- 
men, and their bullets were again whistling close. 
The Highlanders were being methodically surrounded 
by Pickens' militia and Morgan's Continentals. Sum- 
moning his gallant 54 supporters, Tarleton galloped 
down the Green River Road, a defeated man. 

On the battlefield, the Highlanders were trying to 
retreat. But Howard's Continentals and Washing- 
ton's cavalry were now between them and safety. 
Through the center of their line charged Lt. Col. 
James Jackson and some of his Georgians to try to 
seize their standard. Bayonet-wielding Scotsmen were 
about to kill Jackson when Howard and his Conti- 
nentals broke through the 71st's flank and saved 
him. Howard called on the Highlanders to surrender. 
Major McArthur handed his sword to Pickens and so 
did most of the other officers. Pickens passed the 


major's sword to Jackson and ordered him to escort 
McArthur to the rear. 

Captain Duncasson of the 71st surrendered his 
sword to Howard. When Howard remounted, the 
captain clung to his saddle and almost unhorsed him. 
"I expressed my displeasure," Howard recalled, "and 
asked him what he was about.'' Duncasson told 
Howard that Tarleton had issued orders to give no 
quarter and they did not expect any. The Continen- 
tals were approaching with their bayonets still fixed. 
He was afraid of what they might do to him. Howard 
ordered a sergeant to protect the captain. 

Around the patriot's main position, a happy chaos 
raged. In his exultation, Morgan picked up his 
9-year-old drummer boy and kissed him on both 

Others were off on new adventures. Cavalryman 
Thomas Young joined half a dozen riders in pursuit 
of prisoners and loot down the Green River Road. 
They must have embarked on this foray shortly after 
most of Tarleton's cavalry had deserted him and 
before Tarleton himself quit the battlefield after the 
encounter with Washington. 

"We went about twelve miles," Young said in his 
recollections of the battle, "and captured two British 
soldiers, two negroes and two horses laden with 
portmanteaus. One of the portmanteaus belonged to 
a paymaster . . . and contained gold." The other 
riders decided this haul was too good to risk on the 
road and told Young to escort the prisoners and the 
money back to Cowpens. Young had ridden several 
miles when he collided with Tarleton and his 54 
troopers. Abandoning his captures, Young tried to 
escape. He darted down a side road, but his horse 
was so stiff from the hard exercise on the battlefield, 
the British overtook him. 

"My pistol was empty so I drew my sword and 
made battle," the young militiaman said. "I never 
fought so hard in my life." He was hopelessly out- 
numbered. In a few clanging seconds, a saber split a 
finger on his left hand, another slashed his sword 
arm, a third blade raked his forehead and the skin 
fell over his eyes, blinding him. A saber tip speared 
his left shoulder, a blade sank deep into his right 
shoulder, and a final blow caught him on the back of 
the head. Young clung to his horse's neck, half 


Washington and Tarleton Duel 

One of the battle's most colorful 
incidents occurred at the very 
end. As defeat enveloped his 
army, Tarleton tried to rally his 
cavalry to the support of the 
infantry. His Legion dragoons, 
ignoring his orders and threats, 
stampeded off the field. Only 
the disciplined veterans of the 
1 7th Dragoons followed him 

into battle. They ran head-on 
into the Continental dragoons 
of Lt. Col. William Washington. 
As sabers flashed, Washington 
found himself far in advance 
of his unit. What happened 
next is described in a passage 
from John Marshall's famous 
Life of George Washington, 
written when the event still 

lingered in the memory of 
contemporaries: 'Obser^/ing 
[Washington about 30 yards in 
front of his regiment], three 
British officers wheeled about 
and attacked him; the officer 
on his left was aiming to cut 
him down, when a sergeant 
came up and intercepted the 
blow by disabling the sword- 


arm, at the same instant the 
officer on his right was about 
to make a stroke at him, when 
a waiter, too small to wield a 
sword, saved him by wounding 
the officer with a pistol. At this 
moment, Tarleton made a 
thrust at him, which he par- 
ried, upon which the officer 
[Tarleton] retreated a few 

paces and discharged his pis- 
tol at him " 

It is this account that proba- 
bly inspired the artist William 
Ranney in 1 845 to paint the 
vigorous battle scene spread 
across these pages. Washing- 
ton and Tarleton (on the black 
horse) raise their swords in 
the center while Washington's 

servant boy levels his pistol at 
the far dragoon. While the 
painting errs in details of 
costume— Washington and his 
sergeant should be dressed in 
white coats, not green, and 
the British should be in green, 
not red — it catches the spirit 
of the duel. 


He was battered and bleeding, but his courage 
saved his Hfe. With the pecuHar sportsmanship that 
the British bring to war, they took him off his horse, 
bandaged his wounds, and led him back to the main 
road, where they rejoined Tarleton and the rest of 
his party. One of the Tory guides that had led the 
British through the back country to Cowpens recog- 
nized Young and announced he was going to kill 
him. He cocked his weapon. ''In a moment," Young 
said, "about twenty British soldiers drew their swords, 
cursed him for a coward wishing to kill a boy without 
arms and a prisoner, and ran him off." 

Tarleton ordered Young to ride beside him. He 
asked him many questions about Morgan's army. He 
was particularly interested in how many dragoons 
Washington had. "He had seventy," Young said, 
"and two volunteer companies of mounted militia. 
But you know, they |the militia] won't fight." 

"They did today," Tarleton replied. 

1 U On the battlefield at Cowpens, Surgeons Robert 
Jackson of the 71st Highlanders and Richard Pindell 
of the 1st Maryland were doing their limited best to 
help the wounded of both sides. There were 62 
patriots and 200 British in need of medical attention, 
which consisted largely of extracting musket balls, if 
possible, bandaging wounds, and giving sufferers 
some opium or whiskey, if any was available. The 
battle had also cost the British 110 dead, including 
10 officers. Only 12 patriots were killed in the battle, 
though many more died later of wounds. But it was 
the number of prisoners — some 530— that under- 
scored the totality of the American victory. 

Even as prisoners, the British, particularly the 
Scots, somewhat awed the Americans. Joseph 
McJunkin said they "looked like nabobs in their 
flaming regimentals as they sat down with us, the 
militia, in our tattered hunting shirts, black-smoked 
and greasy." 

Other patriots were not content to inspect their 
exotic captives. William Washington was having a 
terse conference with Andrew Pickens. They agreed 
that there was still a good chance to catch Tarleton. 
But they needed enough men to overwhelm his 54- 
man squadron. Washington changed his wounded 
horse for a healthy mount and rounded up his scat- 
tered dragoons. Pickens summoned some of his own 


men and ordered James Jackson to follow him "with 
as many of the mounted militia as he could get." 

Down the Green River Road they galloped, sabers 
in hand. But Tarleton the cavalryman was not an 
easy man to catch. He rode at his usual horse-killing 
pace. A few miles above William Thompson's plan- 
tation on Thicketty Creek, they found the expedi- 
tion's baggage wagons abandoned, 35 in all, most of 
them belonging to the 7th Regiment. The fleeing 
cavalry of the Legion had told the 100-man guard of 
the defeat. The officer in command had set fire to all 
the baggage that would burn, cut loose the wagon 
horses, mounted his infantry two to a horse, and 
ridden for the safety of Cornwallis's army. Aban- 
doned with the baggage were some 70 black slaves. 
A short time later, a party of loyalists, fugitives from 
the battlefield, reached the baggage train and began 
to loot it. They were not long at this work before 
Tarleton and his heartsick officers and troopers 
came pounding down the road. They did not ask 
questions about loyalty. They cut down the looters 
without mercy. 

Tarleton too was riding for Cornwallis's camp, but 
he had more than safety on his mind. He assumed 
the British commander was just across the Broad 
River at Kings Mountain in a position to rescue the 
500 or so men Morgan had taken prisoner. Perhaps 
Tarleton met a loyalist scout or messenger some- 
where along the road. At any rate, he heard "with 
infinite grief and astonishment'' that the main army 
was at least 35 miles away, at Turkey Creek. 

This news meant a change of route. The Brit- 
ish decided they needed a guide. Near Thicketty 
Creek they stopped at the house of a man named 
Goudelock. He was known as a rebel. But Tarleton 
probably put a saber to his throat and told him he 
would be a dead man if he did not lead them to 
Hamiltons Ford across the Broad River, near the 
mouth of Bullocks Creek. Goudelock's terrified wife 
watched this virtual kidnapping of her husband. 

About half an hour after Tarleton and his troop- 
ers departed to the southeast, Washington, Pickens, 
and their dragoons and militia troopers rode into 
Goudelock's yard. They had stopped to extinguish 
the fires the British started in the baggage wagons 
and collect some of the slaves the enemy had 
abandoned. The Americans asked Mrs. Goudelock 

Among the equipment cap- 
tured from the British was a 
"Travelling Forge, "used by 
artificers to keep horses shod 
and wagons in repair. 


Congress awarded this silver 
sword to Colonel Pickens for 
his part in the battle. 

if she had seen the British fugitives. Yes, she said. 
What road did they take? She pointed down the 
Green River Road, which led to Grindal Shoals on 
the Pacolet. Like a great many people in every v/ar, 
she was more interested in personal survival than 
national victory. If the Americans caught up to Tarle- 
ton, there was certain to be a bloody struggle, in 
which her husband might be killed. Mrs. Goudelock 
preferred a live husband to a dead or captured 
British commander. 

The Americans galloped for the Pacolet. Not until 
they had traveled 24 miles on this cold trail did they 
turn back. By then, it was much too late. Tarleton 
was safely across the Broad River at Hamiltons Ford. 
But the American pursuit helped save Thomas 
Young, the captured militiaman. When Tarleton and 
his men, guided by the reluctant Goudelock, reached 
the ford, it was almost dark. Someone told them the 
river was "swimming." Someone else, perhaps a 
loyalist scout, rode up with word that Washington 
and his cavalry were after them. Considerable confu- 
sion ensued, as Tarleton and his officers conferred 
on whether to flee down the river to some other 
ford, attempt to swim the river in the dark, or stand 
and fight. Everyone stopped thinking about Thomas 
Young and another prisoner, a Virginian whom the 
British had scooped up along the road. The two 
Americans spurred their horses into the darkness, 
and no one noticed they were gone. 

Tarleton crossed the Broad River that night and 
spent the next morning collecting his runaway dra- 
goons and other stragglers before riding down to 
Cornwallis's camp at Turkey Creek. The British 
commander already knew the bad news. Some of the 
Legion cavalry had drifted into camp the previous 
night. But Tarleton, as the field commander, was 
required to make a detailed report. 

According to Joseph McJunkin, whose father had 
been taken prisoner by the British and was an 
eyewitness, Cornwallis grew so agitated he plunged 
his sword into the ground in front of his tent and 
leaned on it while listening to the details of the 
disaster. By the end of Tarleton's account, the earl 
was leaning so hard on the hilt that the sword 
snapped in half. He threw the broken blade on the 
ground and swore he would recapture the lost light 
infantry, Fusiliers, and Highlanders. 


The general exonerated Tarleton of all culpability 
for the defeat at Cowpens. "You have forfeited no 
part of my esteem, as an officer," he assured Tarle- 
ton. Cornwallis blamed the loss on the "total misbe- 
havior of the troops." But he confided to Lord 
Rawdon, the commander at Camden, that "the late 
affair has almost broke my heart." 

On the same morning that Tarleton was making 
his doleful report, Washington and Pickens returned 
to Cowpens. On their ride back, they collected 
several dozen — some versions make it as many as 
100— additional British soldiers straggling through 
the woods. At the battlefield they found only the two 
surgeons caring for the wounded and a handful of 
Pickens' men guarding them. Daniel Morgan, know- 
ing Cornwallis would make a determined effort to 
regain the prisoners, had crossed the Broad River on 
the afternoon of the battle and headed northwest 
toward Gilbert Town. Pickens and Washington caught 
up to him there, and Morgan gave Pickens charge of 
the prisoners, with orders to head for an upper ford 
of the Catawba River. Decoying Cornwallis, Morgan 
led his Continentals toward a lower ford of the same 
river. In an exhausting five-day march, often in an 
icy rain, both units got across this deep, swift- 
running stream ahead of the pursuing British. The 
prisoners were now beyond Cornwallis's reach. They 
were soon marched to camps in Virginia, where the 
men Morgan helped capture at Saratoga were held. 

This final retreat, a vital maneuver that consol- 
idated the field victory at Cowpens, worsened 
Morgan's sciatica. From the east bank of the Ca- 
tawba, he warned Greene that he would have to 
leave the army. "I grow worse every hour," he wrote. 
"I can't ride or walk." As the rain continued to pour 
down, Morgan had to abandon his tent and seek the 
warmth of a private house. Greene immediately 
rode from Cheraw Hills and took personal command 
of the army. By the time Morgan departed for 
Virginia on February 10, he was in such pain that he 
had to be carried in a litter. 

A grateful Congress showered the Cowpens vic- 
tors with praise and rewards. Morgan was voted a 
gold medal, and Howard and Washington were 
voted silver medals. Pickens received a silver sword. 
Perhaps the most immediate result of the battle was 
in the minds of the people of the South. The victory 

Of the three medals awarded 
by Congress — a gold medal 
to Morgan and silver medals 
to Washington and Howard- 
only the Howard medal 
(below) has survived. The 
Latin inscription reads: "The 
American Congress to John 
Eager Howard, commander 
of a regiment of infantry. " 
The medal is in the collec- 
tion of the Maryland Histori- 
cal Society. 


sent a wave of hope through the CaroHnas and 
Georgia. It also changed attitudes in Congress 
toward the southern States. John Mathews of South 
CaroHna told Greene that "the intelligence . . . seems 
to have had a very sensible effect on some folks, for 
as this is a convincing proof that something is to be 
done in that department . . . they seem at present to 
be well disposed to give it every possible aid." 

The news had an exhilarating effect on Greene's 
half of the southern army. He ordered a celebration 
and praised Morgan extravagantly in the general 
orders announcing the victory. A friend on Greene's 
staff sent a copy to Morgan, adding, "It was written 
immediately after we heard the news, and during the 
operation of some cherry bounce." To Francis 
Marion, Greene wrote, "After this, nothing will 
appear difficult." 

This optimism soon faded. To the men in the field, 
Cowpens did not seem particularly decisive. Banastre 
Tarleton was soon back in action at the head of the 
British cavalry. On February 1, from his sick bed, 
Morgan wrote a despairing letter to Gov. Thomas 
Jefferson of Virginia, describing the retreat of the 
Southern army before Cornwallis. "Our men |are| 
almost naked," still too weak to fight him. "Great 
God what is the reason we can't have more men in 
the field? How distressing it must be to an anxious 
mind to see the country over run and destroyed for 
want of assistance." 

The civil war between the rebels and the loyalists 
continued in South Carolina, marked by the same 
savage fratricidal strife. "The scenes were awful," 
Andrew Pickens recalled. Young James Collins, in 
his simple, honest way, told the militiaman's side of 
this story. Summing up his role at Cowpens, Collins 
said he fired his "little rifle five times, whether with 
any effect or not, I do not know." The following day, 
he and many other militiamen received "some small 
share of the plunder" from the captured British 
wagons. Then, "taking care to get as much powder 
as we could, we [the militia] disbanded and returned 
to our old haunts, where we obtained a few days 
rest." Within a week, Collins was again on his horse, 
risking his life as a scout and messenger. 

Only years later, with a full perspective of the war, 
did the importance of Cowpens become clear. By 
destroying Tarleton's Legion, Daniel Morgan crip- 


pled the enemy's power to intimidate and suppress 
the mihtia. Cornwalhs was never able to replace the 
regulars he lost at Cowpens. He had to abandon all 
thought of dividing his field army— which meant that 
British power did not extend much beyond the 
perimeter of his camp. When he pursued Greene's 
army deep into North Carolina, the partisans in 
South Carolina rose in revolt. Eventually, Cornwalhs 
was forced to unite his decimated, half-starved regi- 
ments with the British troops in Virginia, where they 
were trapped by Gen. George Washington's army at 
Yorktown in October 1781. 

In South Carolina, meanwhile, Nathanael Greene 
combined militia with his small regular army in the 
style Morgan had originated at Cowpens. Though 
Greene was forced to retreat without victory at Guil- 
ford Courthouse (March 15, 1781), Hobkirks Hill 
(April 25, 1781), and Eutaw Springs (September 8, 
1781), the British army suffered such heavy losses in 
these and other encounters that they soon aban- 
doned all their posts in the back country, including 
the fort at Ninety Six, and retreated to a small 
enclave around Charleston. There they remained, 
impotent and besieged, until the war was almost over. 

It took nine years for the U.S. Treasury to scrape 
together the cash to buy Daniel Morgan the gold 
medal voted him by Congress for Cowpens. In the 
spring of 1790, this letter came to the Old Wagoner 
at his home near Winchester, Virginia: 

Overleaf On the 75th anni- 
versary of the battle, the 
Washington Light Infantry — a 
Charleston militia company — 
marched to the battlefield 
and erected this monument 
to the victors. 

New York, March 25, 1790 

Sir: You will receive with this a medal, stmck by 
the order of the late Congress, in commemoration 
of your much approved conduct in the battle of 
the Cowpens and presented to you as a mark of 
the high sense which your country entertains of 
your services on that occasion. 

This medal was put into my hands by Mr. 

Jefferson, and it is with singular pleasure that I 

now transmit it to you. 

I am. Sir 6c c, 
George Washington 














■ ■'' ■ 



: .-i 




' i'k 


" v'tI 






i ItMi 



Cowpens Battleground 

Cowpens was one of the most skillfully 
fought battles in the annals of the 
American military. It pitted a young 
and ruthless commander of British 
dragoons— a man widely feared and 
hated in the South — against a brilliant 
tactician and experienced leader of 
American militia. The fighting was 
short and decisive. In less than an 
hour, three-fourths of the British were 
killed or captured, many of them the 
best light troops in the army. For Corn- 
wallis, the rout was another in a series 
of disasters that led ultimately to final 
defeat at Yorktown. 

The park that preserves the scene of 
this battle is located in upstate South 
Carolina, 11 miles northwest of Gaff- 
ney by way of S.C. 11. The original 
park on this site was established in 
1929 on an acre of ground marking the 
point of some of the hardest fighting. 
For the bicentennial of the battle, the 
park was expanded to over 842 acres, 
and many new facilities— among them 
a visitor center, roads, trails, and 
waysides — were built. 

The battlefield is small enough for 
visitors to stroll around and replay the 
maneuvers of the opposing command- 
ers. A iy4-mile trail loops through the 
heart of the park. Two of the first stops 
are at the lines held by Howard's Con- 
tinentals and Pickens' militia. Farther 
along the trail you can stand where 
Tarleton formed his troops into a line 
of battle. From this point, the trail up 
the Green River Road covers ground 
over which the British advanced at 
sunrise that cold January morning. The 
pitched fighting between Continentals 
and redcoats that decided the contest 
occurred just beyond the bend in the 

The land is currently being restored 
to its appearance at the time of the 
battle. In 1781, this field was a grassy 

meadow dotted with tall hardwoods. 
A locally known pasturing ground, it 
was used by Carolina farmers to fatten 
cattle before sending them to low- 
country markets. 

Tarleton in his memoirs described it 
as an "open wood . . . disadvantageous 
for the Americans, and convenient for 
the British." He expected to break 
through the rebel lines, as he had so 
often done in the past, and ride down 
the fleeing remnants with his cavalry. 

Morgan saw the same ground as 
favoring him and based his plan of 
battle on a shrewd appraisal of both 
his foe and his own men. He was happy 
enough that there was no swamp nearby 
for his militia to flee to and uncon- 
cerned that there were no natural ob- 
stacles covering his wings from cavalry. 
He knew his adversary, he claimed, 
"and was perfectly sure I should have 
nothing but downright fighting. As to 
retreat, it was the very thing I wished 
to cut off all hope of. . . When men are 
forced to fight, they will sell their lives 
dearly.'' So Morgan deployed his men 
according to their abilities and handled 
them in battle with rare skill. They re- 
warded him, militia and regular alike, 
with what was probably the patriots' 
best-fought battle of the war. 

Cowpens was only one battle in a 
long campaign. For perspective, nine 
other sites of the War in the South 
are described on the following pages. 
Several of them are administered by 
public agencies; a few are barely 
marked and may be hard to find. Trav- 
elers will find two works useful: Land- 
marks of the American Revolution by 
Mark M. Boatner III (1975) and The 
Bicentennial Guide to the American 
Revolution, Volume J, The War in the 
South by Sol Stember (1974). 


This monument was erected 
by the government in 1932 to 
commemorate the battle. It 
originally stood in the center 
of Morgan 's third line but was 
moved to this location when 
the new visitor center was 
built for the Bicentennial. 

These hardwoods along the 
patriots ' third line suggest 
the open woods that con- 
temporaries agree covered 
the Cowpens at the time of 
the battle. 


010 Kilometers 50 


10 Miles 





























'To Yorktown 
and Colonial 
Historical Park) 




Guilford Courthouse 
Winston-Salem National Military Park Burlington 

High Point . 





Kings Mbuntain 
-^ „ National / 

Gaffney Myitary Park 

"Spartanburg O , 

Rock Hill 

I Waxhaws 

Chapel p) 
Hill ^ 

) Durham 





Moores Cr 
National B 

reenwood *> 

Ninety Six >. 
Nationa! HistoricNrr, 
) Site - . o;,„ K^ 




B Camden Battlefield 















"'^'^ C 



Eutaw Springs 
Historical Area 

Charleston ' 


'--' Cape Remain 

^■J r^ 

To Sayaonah, GeofgU 


The Road to Yorktown 

Savannah 1778-79 
The British opened their cam- 
paign against the South with 
the capture of this city in late 
1778. They went on to con- 
quer Georgia and threaten 
the Carolinas. To retake the 
city, French and American 
infantry opened a siege in the 
fall of 1779. The British re- 
pulsed the allied attacks with 
great losses. Some of the 
hardest fighting swirled 
around Spring Hill Redoubt. 
Nothing remains of this earth- 
work. A plaque on Railroad 
Street is the only reminder of 
the battle. 

Charleston 1780 

The British laid siege to this 
city in spring 1780. Trapped 
inside was the entire South- 
ern army, 5,000 troops under 
Gen. Benjamin Lincoln. 
When Lincoln surrendered, 
it was one of the most crush- 
ing defeats of the war for the 
Continentals. Only a few evi- 
dences of the war remain, 
among them a tabby wall 
(part of the patriots" defensive 
works) in Marion Square and 
a statue of William Pitt, dam- 
aged in the shelling, in a park 
in the lower city. 

Waxhaws 1780 

The only sizable force not 
trapped inside Charleston was 
a regiment of Continentals 
under Abraham Buford. Pur- 
suing hard, Tarleton caught 
them on May 29, 1780, in a 
clearing. His dragoons and in- 
fantry swarmed over Buford's 
lines. The result was a slaugh- 
ter. Many Continentals were 
killed trying to surrender. The 
massacre inspired the epithet 
"Bloody" Tarleton. 

Site located 9 miles east of 
Lancaster, S.C, on Rt. 522. 
Marked by a monument and 
common grave. 


Camden 1780 

After the fall of Charleston, 
Congress sent Gates south to 
stop the British. On August 
16 he collided with Cornwallis 
outside this village. The batde 
was another American disas- 
ter. The militia broke and 
ran, and the Continentals 
were overwhelmed. This de- 
feat was the low point of the 
war in the South. Historic 
Camden preserves remnants 
of the Revolutionary town. 
The battlefield is several 
miles north of town. This 
stone (right) marks the place 
where the heroic DeKalb fell. 

Kings Mountain 1780 

When Cornwallis invaded 
North Carolina in autumn 
1780, he sent Patrick 
Ferguson ranging into the 
upcountry. A band of "over- 
mountain" men — tired of his 
threats and depredations- 
trapped him and his Ameri- 
can loyalists on this summit. 
In a savage battle on Octo- 
ber 7, they killed or wounded 
a third of his men and cap- 
tured the rest. The defeat was 
Cornwallis's first setback in 
his campaign to conquer the 
South. Administered by NPS. 

Guilford Courthouse 1781 

Armies under Nathanael 
Greene and Cornwallis fought 
one of the decisive battles of 
the Revolutionary War here 
on March 15. In two hours of 
hard fighting, Cornwallis 
drove Greene from the field, 
but at such cost that he had 
to break off campaigning and 
fall back to the coast. 

Located on the outskirts of 
Greensboro, N.C. Adminis- 
tered by the National Park 


Ninety Six 1781 

Located on the main trading 
route to the Cherokees, this 
palisaded village was the 
most important British out- 
post in the South Carolina 
back country. Greene laid 
siege to the garrison here 
from May 22 to June 19, 1781 , 
but could not subdue the 
post. A relief force raised the 
siege, which was soon evacu- 
ated and burned. The star fort 
and some buildings have been 

Park administered by the 
National Park Service. 

Eutaw Springs 1781 

The last major battle in the 
lower South (September 8, 
1781), Eutaw Springs matched 
Greene with 2,200 troops 
against 1 ,900 redcoats. The 
outcome was a draw. The 
British retreated to Charles- 
ton, and there they remained 
the rest of the war. 

A memorial park stands on 
Rt. 6, just east of Eutawville, 
S.C. The original battlefield 
is under the waters of Lake 

Yorktown 1781 

Cornwallis's surrender at this 
little port town on October 
19, 1781, brought the war to 
an effective end. The victory 
was a consequence of the 
Franco-American alliance. 
French ships blockaded the 
harbor and prevented resup- 
ply, while Washington's 
powerful force of Continen- 
tals and French regulars be- 
sieged the British by land. 
After a long bombardment 
and a night attack that cap- 
tured two redoubts, Corn- 
wallis asked for terms. 
Administered by NPS. 


For Further Reading 

For those who wish to explore the 
story of Cowpens in more depth, the 
following books will be helpful. Daniel 
Morgan, Revolutionary Rifleman by 
Don Higgenbotham (1961) is a well- 
paced, solidly researched narrative of 
the Old Wagoner's adventurous life. 
Still valuable, especially for its wealth 
of quotations from Morgan's cor- 
respondence, is James Graham's Life 
of General Morgan (1856). On the 
struggle for the South Carolina back- 
country. Ninety Six by Robert D. Bass 
(1978) is the best modern study. Ed- 
ward McCrady's two-volume work, A 
History of South Carolina in the Revo- 
lution (1901), is also useful. For per- 
sonal anecdotes about the savage civil 
war between rebels and loyalists. Tra- 
ditions and Reminiscences, Chiefly of 
the American Revolution in the South 
by Joseph Johnson, M.D. ( 1851 ) is a 
basic source book. Equally illuminat- 
ing is James Collins' Autobiography of 
a Revolutionary Soldier, published in 
Sixty Years in the Nueces Valley ( 1930). 
Biographies of other men who partici- 
pated in Cowpens are not numerous. 
Skyagunsta by A.L. Pickens ( 1934) 
mingles legend and fact about Andrew 
Pickens. Piedmont Partisan by Chal- 
mers G. Davidson ( 1951 ) is a balanced 
account of William Lee Davidson. 
James Jackson, Duelist and Militant 
Statesman by William O. Foster ( 1960) 
is a competent study of the fiery Geor- 
gia leader. The Life of Major General 
Nathanael Greene by George Washing- 
ton Greene ( 1871 ) gives the reader a 
look at the battle from the viewpoint 
of the American commander in the 
South. For the British side of the story, 
one of the best accounts is Banastre 
Tarleton'sy4 History of the Campaign 
of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Prov- 
inces of North America (1787), avail- 
able in a reprint edition. The Green 

Dragoon by Robert D. Bass (1957) gives 
a more objective view of Tarleton's me- 
teoric career. Two other useful books 
are Strictures on Lt. Col. Tarleton 's His- 
tory by Roderick Mackenzie (1788), an 
officer who fought at Cowpens with 
the 71st Regiment, and The History of 
the Origin, Progress and Termination 
of the American War by Charles Sted- 
man ( 1794), a British officer who was 
extremely critical of Tarleton. Both 
are available in reprint editions. Corn- 
wallis, the American Adventure by 
Franklin and Mary Wickwire (1970) has 
an excellent account of Cowpens— and 
the whole war in the South — from the 
viewpoint of Tarleton's commander. 
Rise and Fight Again by Charles B. 
Flood ( 1976) ably discusses the influ- 
ence of Cowpens and other Southern 
battles on the ultimate decision at 

— Thomas J. Fleming 



Anderson. Lt. Thomas, 44 

Backcountry, British strategy 

in, 19 
Blackstocks; battle of, 29, 54, 

Brandon, Thomas, 42, 60 
Bratton, William, 42 
Briar Creek (Ga.); battle of, 51 
British Legion, 26, 28, 41 , 47, 

54, 70, 72 
Broad River, 28, 30, 31, 40, 

46,54,82; tactical 

importance of, 44 
Browne, Thomas, 20 
Buford, Col. Abraham, 26 

Camden (S.C). 20, 22. 51: 

battle of, 18 
Charleston (S.C), 18,26,50: 

map, 27 
Civil war in the South, 19ff, 84 
Clarke, Elijah, 20, 27, 33ff, 61 
Collins, James, 57, 60, 66, 67, 

Cornwallis, Charles, Earl, /.?, 


61 , 82: army under, 22 
Cowpens. nature of terrain, 

55ff: significance of battle, 

Cruger. Col. John H.. 29. 33. 34 
Cunningham. Maj. John, 35, 


Davidson, Col. William. 38. 

Duncasson. Capt.. 77 

Easterwood Shoals. 43 

Fair Forest Creek. 35 
Fairforest Shoals, 60 
Fishdam Ford, battle of, 28 
Fishing Creek, battle of, 28, 

60, 67 

Gates, Gen. Horatio. I.k 18. 

Glaubech. Baron de. 13 
Goudelock. the rebel. 81ff. 
Great Savannah, battle of, 50 
Green River Road. 44. 45. 

Greene, Gen. Nathanael, /(V, 

Grindal Shoals, 12,31.35.82 

Hamiltons Ford, 81, 82 
Hammonds Store, 30, 34 
Hanger, Maj. George, 54, 69 
Hanging Rock, 47 
Howard, Lt. Col. John Eager, 

Hughes, Joseph, 60, 68 

Inman, Joshua, 61 
Island Ford, 44, 45 

Jackson, Lt. Col. James, 35, 

Jackson, Dr. Robert. 72, 80 

Kennedy, William, 60 

Kettle Creek, 32 

Kings Mountain, 42, 43, 61 , 81 

Lee, Gen. Charles, 23 
Legion dragoons, 26, 28, 43, 

Lenuds Ferry, 26, 76 
Leslie, Sir Alexander, .?/, 39 
Lincoln, Gen. Benjamin. 18, 

Long Canes, 32, 33, 34 
Loyalists, 20, 21, 84 

Marion, Francis2rA 21, 28, 

50, 84 
Maryland and Delaware Con- 
tinentals, 18,55,70,71,76 
Mathews, John, 84 
McArthur, Maj. Archibald. 

McDowell. Maj. Joseph. 42. 61 
McJunkin. Joseph. 12. 13. 19. 

20. 23. 80. 82 
Militia. 13. 18. 35. 40. 43: at 

Cowpens. 65ff. 72. 80 
Morgan, Gen. Daniel: 12. 14, 
22, 23, 30, .15, 38, .^9, 41, 
42ff: youth and reputation, 
13; nickname, 22: charac- 
terized, 15; battle plan, 45. 
55-7; urges militia to join 
him. 44: exhorts troops 
before battle, 62; in battle, 
65ff: leads final retreat, 83, 
voted gold medal, 83, letter 
from Washington. 85 
Musgrove"s Mill. 42. 61 

Newmarsh. Maj. Timothy, 50, 

Ninety Six (S.C), 22, 23, 29, 
32,38,61,85; map, 30 

Ogilvie, Capt. David. 54 , 63 

Pacolet River, 12, 34, 35, 38, 

Pickens, Col. Andrew. 13, .U, 
34,35,41,60,61; charac- 
terized, 32; his command 
at Cowpens, 56; in battle, 
65ff , 80ff ; receives silver 
sword. 83 

Pindell. Dr. Richard. 80 

Prince of Wales Regt.. 47 

Riflemen at Cowpens. 57. 62 
Royal Artillery. 51. 7 Iff 

Saratoga. Morgan's tactics at, 

Seymour, Sgt. William, 67 
7th Fusiliers, 31, 50, 65, 69 
17th Light Dragoons, 31, 54, 

71st Highlanders, 51. 64. 69 
16th Light Infantry. 47 
Sumter, Col. Thomas. /V, 20, 


Tarleton, Col. Banastre, 13, 
24, characterized, 25; 
career, 23-29; pursues 
Morgan, 30, 42, 46; 
composition of army, 47ff; 
battle plan, 54-55, 6.1ff; in 
battle, 67, 71ff, 80; escapes 
with Legion dragoons, 81 ; 
reports to Cornwallis, 82 
Thicketty Creek, 35, 41 . 43, 

Thicketty Mountain, 63 
Thompson's Plantation, 35, 81 
Turkey Creek. 61. 81, 82 

Washington, George, 13.21,85 
Washington, Col. William, 13, 
."^0,34,56, 6.?, 67. 70. 80: 
duels with Tarleton. 76. 
7&7'J; voted silver medal. 83 
Waxhaws. 26. 28. 33 
Williamson. Gen. Andrew. 32 
Winn. Richard. 40. 45, 55 
Wofford's ircMi works, 41 . 43 

Young. John. 57 

Young. Thomas. 57, 66. 68. 



4-5, 8-9: William A. Bake 

10-11: 'The Battle of Cowpens," by 
Francis Kimmelmeyer, 1809. 
Yale University. 

13: Portrait of Gates by Charles Willson 
Peale. Collection of Independence Na- 
tional Historical Park. 
Cornwallis by Thomas Gainsborough, 
National Portrait Gallery, London. 

14: Daniel Morgan by CWPeale. Inde- 
pendence NHP. 

18: Nathanael Greene by CWPeale. 
Independence NHP. 

19: Thomas Sumter by Rembrandt 
Peale. Independence NHP. 

20: Francis Marion, a detail from a 
painting by John B. White. Anne S.K. 
Brown Military Collection, Brown Uni- 
versity Library. 

21: Elijah Clarke, Georgia 
Department of Archives and History. 

23: New- York Historical Society. 

24: Banastre Tarleton by Sir Joshua 
Reynolds. National Portrait Gallery, 

25: Mary Robinson, an engraving after 
a painting by Reynolds. Collection of 
Sir John Tilney. Tarleton birthplace, 
Liverpool City Libraries. 

26: Benjamin Lincoln by CW Peale. 
Independence NHP. 

27: Library of Congress 

28: Anne S.K. Brown Military Collec- 
tion, Brown University Library. 

29: Library of Congress 

30: Map from Francis V. Greene, Gen- 
eral Greene ( 1893). 

31: Alexander Leslie by Gainsborough. 
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 

33: National Portrait Gallery, 
Smithsonian Institution. 

36-37 (except pistols), 47 (fife), 56-57: 
The George C. Neumann Collection, a 
gift of the Sun Company to Valley 
Forge National Historical Park, 1978. 
Dragoon pistol: The Smithsonian Insti- 
tution. Officer's pistol: Fort Pitt 

48-49: all by Don Troiani except the 
17th Light Dragoon, which is by Gerry 

52-53: Maryland Historical Society 

54: Musee du LFmperi, Bouche du 
Rhone, France. 

58-59: Don Troiani. 

63: CW Peale, Independence NHR 

64 -65 : Don Troiani. 

69: Don Troiani. 

74-75: Artist, Richard Schlecht. Cour- 
tesy, National Geographic Society. 

83: Maryland Historical Society 

86-87, 89,93 (Ninety Six), William A. 


NfMional Park Service 

U.S. Department of the Interior 

As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the 
Department of the Interior has responsibiHty for 
most of our nationally owned public lands and 
natural resources. This responsibility includes 
fostering the wisest use of our land and water 
resources, protecting our fish and wildlife, preserv- 
ing the environmental and cultural values of our 
national parks and historical places, and providing 
for the enjoyment of life through outdoor recrea- 
tion. The Department assesses our energy and 
rnineral resources and works to assure that their 
development is in the best interest of all our people. 
The Department also has a major responsibility for 
American Indian reservation communities and for 
people who live in island territories under U.S. 

The brilUant American victoty here 
in 1 781 over the British Legion 
helped turn the tide of the 
Revohitionarv War in the South